Virus Found in NYC Wastewater – NBC New York

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New York City health officials have found polio virus in wastewater samples, they said Friday, suggesting the virus is now circulating in the city.

“For every one case of paralytic polio identified, hundreds more may be undetected,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement. “The detection of poliovirus in wastewater samples in New York City is alarming, but not surprising.”

Earlier this week, federal officials confirmed a team was deployed to New York to investigate the state’s one positive case of polio — found in an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County who suffered paralysis.

The CDC confirmed its presence in the Empire State as health officials issued an urgent call for the unvaccinated to get inoculated against the virus, citing new evidence of possible “community spread.”

The polio patient in Rockland County is the first person known to be infected with the virus in the U.S. in nearly a decade. Wastewater samples collected in June and July in adjacent Orange County also contained the virus.

Polio, once one of the nation’s most feared diseases, was declared eliminated in the United States in 1979, more than two decades after vaccines became available.

A majority of people infected with polio have no symptoms, but can still shed the virus and give it to others for days or weeks. A small percentage of people who get the disease suffer paralysis. The disease is fatal for between 5-10% of those paralyzed.

All school children in New York are required to have a polio vaccine, but enforcement of vaccination rules in some areas can be lax. Rockland and Orange counties are both known as centers of vaccine resistance. Statewide, about 79% of have completed their polio vaccination series by age two. In Orange County, that rate is 59%. In Rockland it is 60%.

In New York City, 86.2% of all children under age 5 have completed the recommended three-dose vaccination series.

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