Protect Yourself

Poliovirus Detected In New York City Wastewater Samples

Health officials urge those in the area to stay up to date on vaccinations.

Poliovirus has been detected in the wastewater of NYC. Here, a differential focus of a female scient...
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According to state and local health officials, poliovirus has been detected in wastewater samples in New York City, suggesting a possible circulation of the virus. Officials are urging those in the greater NYC metro area to stay up to date on polio immunizations as the virus can cause incurable paralysis and death.

This comes after the identification of a case of paralytic polio in a Rockland County, New York, resident on July 21, and the detection in sewage water samples in May, June and July from Rockland and Orange counties, which neighbor the city.

Most people in the U.S. are protected against polio, but there are still some who are unvaccinated and undervaccinated, and therefore vulnerable. For people who are fully immunized, most will be asymptomatic and or have flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, fever, tiredness and nausea.

According to CNN, State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said that the detection of poliovirus in wastewater is “alarming, but not surprising.

“For every one case of paralytic polio identified, hundreds more may be undetected,” she added.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said that with polio circulating, “there is simply nothing more essential than vaccinating our children to protect them from this virus, and if you’re an unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated adult, please choose now to get the vaccine.”

Authorities say routine vaccine coverage has fallen among children since 2019, noting only 86.2% of NYC kids between the ages of six months and five years old have received three doses of the polio vaccine — meaning 14% remain not fully protected.

In London, young children were made eligible for booster doses of a polio vaccine after British health authorities reported finding evidence of the virus in multiple areas of the city. Officials found no cases of the paralytic disease in people, however.