What to Know
- More polio was recently detected in sewage samples from the Hudson Valley, according to New York state health officials, further indicating possible community spread of the virus declared eradicated in 1979.
- The CDC detected polio in samples taken between June and July at two geographically different locations in Orange County and has linked them to samples from Jerusalem, Israel, and recent samples from London, England.
- The Rockland County case involved an unvaccinated patient who had a vaccine-derived strain of virus that indicates it would have been contracted by someone who received a live dose used by a country outside the US; Rarely, people who receive the live virus can pass it on to other people who have not been vaccinated.
NEW YORK – The virus that causes paralytic polio infections has been detected in New York City sewage samples, state and city health officials jointly announced Friday, sounding another in a series of recent alarms about the ongoing community spread of the once-feared childhood disease declared eradicated in the United States more than 40 years ago.
Concerns about the resurgence of another viral scourge began to intensify over the summer, when sewage samples detected polio in London and Israel. Then New York confirmed the first US case of polio in decades, in an unvaccinated man from Rockland County who had a strain of the virus that likely came from a live vaccine used only outside the United States. More sewage samples yielded more worrisome links, health officials recently said, and more evidence of community spread.
Poliomyelitis can cause permanent paralysis of the arms and legs and even death in some cases.
Last week, New York state health officials warned that “hundreds” of people could be infected locally. The state health department, which began sewage surveillance earlier this month after officials announced the first confirmed case of polio in the US in nearly a decade in an unvaccinated patient in Rockland County on June 21, July, says the CDC confirmed the presence of the polio virus in samples taken from June and July at two geographically different locations in Orange County, officials said.
While there are no confirmed active cases of polio in the county, according to the local county executive, it has a much lower polio vaccination rate (59.45%) among 2-year-olds than the state average (79.1%), which makes the community vulnerable.
“These environmental findings, which indicate possible community spread, in addition to the case of paralytic polio identified among a Rockland County resident, underscore the urgency for all New York adults and children to be vaccinated against polio, especially those in the New York metropolitan area,” he said.
“Based on past polio outbreaks, New Yorkers should know that for every case of paralytic polio seen, there may be hundreds of other people infected,” said Dr. Bassett. “Coupled with the latest sewage findings, the Department is treating the single case of polio as just the tip of the iceberg of a much larger potential spread. As we learn more, what we do know is clear: the danger of polio.” is present in New York today. We must meet this moment by making sure that adults, including pregnant people, and young children before 2 months of age are up to date on their vaccinations – the safe protection against this debilitating virus that all New Yorkers need.
To clarify, that doesn’t mean everyone is at risk. According to the CDC, 99 percent of people who received the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), the only polio immunization administered in the US since 2000, are fully protected against the virus. However, it is those who are not vaccinated who remain at risk.
Health officials said samples from the confirmed case from Rockland County appear to be genetically linked to two samples collected in early June from Rockland County and samples from the Jerusalem, Israel metropolitan area, as well as environmental samples recently detected in London. The Rockland County resident had no known travel to London, authorities said.
Sewage surveillance is a critical screening tool that can assess the potential spread of polio in the community, New York health officials say, and they are testing samples across the state to be thorough in their investigation. Those are sent to the CDC. Learn more about polio from the NYSDOH here.
In Rockland’s case, health officials said the patient had acquired a “vaccine-derived” strain of the virus, meaning it likely originated from someone who was inoculated with a live vaccine, available in other countries. but not in the US on rare occasions. cases, people who receive the live virus can transmit it to other people who have not been vaccinated.
As for the broader implications, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative said last week that genetic and epidemiological investigations are attempting to “determine the possible spread of the virus and the potential risk associated with these various isolates detected in different parts of the world.” ”.
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. Its discovery in Rockland County sparked a local vaccination campaign.
“Given how quickly polio can spread, now is the time for all adults, parents and guardians to get themselves and their children vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Dr. Bassett.