Hundreds Exposed to Polio After Virus Found in Wastewater: NY

  • There may be “hundreds” of people infected with polio, New York health officials warned.
  • It comes after the virus was detected in wastewater in two counties near New York City.
  • Officials are warning all unvaccinated adults and children to get vaccinated against polio. 

New York health officials said there may be “hundreds” of people infected with polio after the virus was detected in wastewater. 

Officials are warning anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated against the virus to do so as soon as possible, according to a Department of Health statement on Thursday.

“Based on earlier polio outbreaks, New Yorkers should know that for every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of other people infected,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

The virus was first detected in wastewater samples in June in Rockland County, near New York City, and has since been detected in neighboring Orange County, the statement said. 

“Coupled with the latest wastewater findings, the Department is treating the single case of polio as just the tip of the iceberg of much greater potential spread,” Bassett said. “As we learn more, what we do know is clear: the danger of polio is present in New York today.”

Seven positive samples were detected, all “genetically linked” to an unvaccinated individual in Rockland County who developed paralytic polio in mid-July. That individual was not “the source of the transmission” and the “case investigation into the origin of the virus is ongoing,” officials said in the statement.

“This unprecedented circulation of polio in our community from a devastating disease that was eradicated from the United States in 1979 must be stopped,” said Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, Rockland County Health Commissioner. “Any unvaccinated children and adults should receive a first polio immunization immediately.” 

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