Health officials in New York State have issued a warning, asking individuals who haven’t had the vaccine to do so as soon as possible, that the confirmed polio cases in the state may be just the “tip of the iceberg” and that hundreds more may be affected.
The New York State Department of Health has reported the discovery of seven additional samples of the polio virus in wastewater in two counties, and the CDC has sent a team to conduct an investigation. After an adult who had not received the disease’s vaccine developed it in Rockland County in July 2022—the country’s first verified case of the disease since 2013—polio was found in wastewater in Orange County. The fresh samples, which are all from Orange and Rockland counties, show local transmission.
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“The Department views the lone case of polio as the very tip of a much larger potential spread, especially in light of the most recent wastewater discoveries. What we already know is quite clear: polio is still a threat in modern-day New York. The safe defense against this crippling illness that every New Yorker needs must be provided by ensuring that adults, especially pregnant women, and young children by the age of two have all of their immunizations up to date.”
The Department of Health is pushing both adults and children to get inoculated in order to prevent the spread of the illness, which can result in death in one in 20 infections and irreversible paralysis in one in 200 infections.
In comparison to Orange County, which has a vaccination rate of 58.68 percent, Rockland County has a vaccination rate of 60.34 percent among kids who have had three doses of the vaccine by the time they turn two. That is far less than the 78.96 percent statewide average.
Polio is a dangerous illness that is highly contagious and can spread without the sick person being aware of it.