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Polio Found In Wastewater In NY, Health Dept. Urges Vaccinations

Health officials in New York are urging residents to get vaccinated against polio if they have not yet done so.
Health officials in New York are urging residents to get vaccinated against polio if they have not yet done so. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Salvadorjo~commonswiki

Health officials in New York are urging residents to get vaccinated against polio if they have not yet done so.

In an update Monday, Aug.1 the Department of Health said testing done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had confirmed that the polio virus was detected in wastewater samples in Rockland County in June.

“These findings underscore the critical importance of vaccination to protect all New Yorkers and New York children against polio,” the department said in a statement.

Monday’s revelation came a little over a week after health officials confirmed that Rockland County had the first confirmed case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade.

The case was genetically linked to ones found in Israel and the UK, but officials warned that that does not mean that the patient in New York traveled to those countries.

Polio is a highly contagious, viral disease that can affect the nervous system and cause muscle weakness. It typically enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with fecal matter of an infected person.

Respiratory and oral-to-oral transmission through saliva may also occur, officials said.

Symptoms of polio include fatigue, fever, headache, stiffness, muscle pain, and vomiting, and can take up to 30 days to appear, during which time an infected person can be transmitting the virus to others.

Health officials said while rare, some polio cases can result in paralysis or death.

Once considered one of the most feared diseases in the country, polio was virtually eliminated from the US following the development of vaccines in the 1950s.

The last known case in the US was in 2013.

"Polio is a dangerous disease with potentially devastating consequences," said State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett. 

"In the United States, we are so fortunate to have available the crucial protection offered through polio vaccination, which has safeguarded our country and New Yorkers for over 60 years.

“Given how quickly polio can spread, now is the time for every adult, parent, and guardian to get themselves and their children vaccinated as soon as possible."

More information about polio and vaccination clinics can be found on the Department of Health's website

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