The New York Department of Health confirmed that polio has been found in wastewater after it conducted several detection tests, and urged the vaccination of children across the state.
After recording a case of polio for the first time in a decade, New York health officials conducted sewage surveillance in Rockland County and found the wastewater to be contaminated with the poliovirus.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the virus’s presence in wastewater suggested that additional persons in the neighborhood may be excreting the virus.
The patient from Rockland County who was diagnosed with polio last month acquired paralysis due to contracting the disease.
The CDC said that no other cases had been reported and that it was unclear whether the virus was spreading rapidly in New York or elsewhere in the US.
The discovery has led New York health authorities to urge its residents to get vaccinated against polio as soon as possible.
“All New Yorkers who are unvaccinated, including children 2 months and older, those who are pregnant, and people who have not completed their polio vaccine series previously, should get vaccinated right away,” said New York’s DOH.
The New York DOH also noted that unvaccinated Rockland County residents face the highest risk of exposure to the disease. According to the agency, the polio vaccination rate among two-year-olds in Rockland County is 60.5 percent compared to the statewide average of 79.1 percent.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, “Given how quickly polio can spread, now is the time for every adult, parent, and guardian to get themselves and their children vaccinated as soon as possible.”
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