For the first time in weeks, polio has been detected in wastewater in New York.
Testing done in December 2022 revealed two new positive samples in Orange County, the Department of Health announced Friday, Jan. 6.
Health officials said the samples are genetically linked to the case of paralytic polio that was identified in Rockland County in July 2022, which marked the first time the disease had been seen in the United States in nearly a decade.
Of the 31 samples identified in Orange County so far, two were collected in June, five in July, six in August, nine in September, six in October, and one in November, according to the health department.
The disease has since been found in wastewater samples in Sullivan County and Nassau County on Long Island, as well as New York City, prompting Gov. Kathy Hochul to declare a state disaster emergency in September 2022.
Hochul’s order expanded the network of polio vaccine administrators and authorized doctors and other medical professionals to issue standing orders for polio vaccines.
Polio is a viral disease that can affect the brain and spinal cord, and can lead to paralysis or even death, according to health officials. It typically enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with the fecal matter of an infected person.
Symptoms include fatigue, fever, headache, stiffness, muscle pain, and vomiting, and can take up to 30 days to appear.
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.
"We continue to deploy wastewater surveillance to check for the virus in communities and urge New Yorkers to ensure their children are fully immunized," the Department of Health said on Twitter.
More information about polio and vaccination clinics can be found on the Department of Health’s website.
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