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Poliovirus Is Still Circulating In 3 New York Counties, According To Wastewater

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Poliovirus Is Still Circulating In 3 New York Counties, According To Wastewater

(CTN News) – Recent sequencing data published by state and federal health agencies show that Poliovirus is still being transmitted through wastewater samples in three upstate counties.

Several cases of polio have been detected in Rockland, Sullivan and Orange counties in recent weeks, all linked genetically to the strain of the disease that partially paralyzed a 20-year-old Rockland County man in June, according to the state Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the state Department of Health, 94 wastewater samples collected statewide from March to mid-November tested positive for polio, although seven of those samples couldn’t easily be linked to the Rockland case.

While polio remains a threat in those areas, health officials report that cases are decreasing in those areas.

“This proactive monitoring will continue, as will efforts to immunize young children and communities in counties of concern to make sure we have both early detection systems in place as well as long-term strategies in place to continuously protect New Yorkers against the threat of paralytic disease,” department spokeswoman Sam Fuld said.

Public health experts have also been able to identify areas free of the Poliovirus through wastewater testing.

In a recent CDC report, which covered samples collected between March 9 and October 11, six of 13 New York counties tested had Poliovirus -associated samples. So far, wastewater facilities in Putnam, Suffolk, Westchester and Ulster counties have not tested positive for polio.

According to the CDC, Nassau had only one detection and therefore no evidence of transmission.

The CDC report indicates that polio may be circulating in New York City based on samples collected in Queens and Brooklyn. However, the data is less reliable because of the size of the sewage facilities where samples were taken.

Polio had been effectively eradicated in the United States before this case was identified in Rockland County. According to experts, the virus was derived from a live version of the polio vaccine that is still used in countries with endemic polio.

Because less than one percent of polio cases result in severe symptoms like paralysis, state health officials are concerned hundreds more may have the disease unknowingly. It is estimated that 25 percent of those with polio experience mild or flu-like symptoms.

Due to the benefits of targeted polio surveillance, the CDC announced last week that it would expand testing of wastewater in other under-vaccinated areas of the country, including Oakland County, Michigan and a county around Philadelphia. A minimum of four months will be required for testing to begin.

It is not routine or generally recommended to test wastewater for poliovirus, unlike COVID-19, and there are strict laboratory safety requirements, according to the CDC.

Dr. José R. Romero, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, says the findings will help determine whether polio is present elsewhere in the country. This will enable the CDC to target vaccination efforts accordingly.

In certain circumstances, water testing can help determine if the poliovirus is present in a community,

” Romero said. Vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent paralytic polio, and people should get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.

While wastewater data cannot be used to identify infected individuals or households, it can enhance other data that are used as part of polio prevention programs.

“Poliovirus strains can be shed in people’s stool without causing symptoms, putting unvaccinated people at risk,” CDC officials wrote in a press release. “Despite this, not all potential detections will be of concern,” since 92 percent of Americans were vaccinated as children.

The New York Department of Health continues to test wastewater for signs of poliovirus in communities and is focusing its vaccination efforts on under-vaccinated school-aged children.

According to data submitted to the New York State Immunization Information System, 46,718 polio vaccine doses were administered to children 18 years and younger between July 21 and Nov. 28, a 20 percent increase compared to the same period in 2021.

It was noted that over 86 percent of those doses were combination vaccines, which included Poliovirus vaccinations.

Vaccination against paralytic polio requires four doses, according to experts. By reducing the amount of virus shed once exposed, the shots also reduce the risk of transmission.

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