ALBANY, N.Y. (WABC) — The CDC sent a team to New York to investigate an identified case of polio in the state.
The group will also help with vaccinations.
Meanwhile, New York state health officials on Thursday issued a more urgent call for unvaccinated children and adults to get the polio vaccine, citing new evidence of possible “community spread” of the dangerous virus.
The video in the player above is from a previous report.
So far, the polio virus has been found in seven different sewage samples in two contiguous counties north of New York, health officials said.
So far, only one person has tested positive for polio — an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County who suffered paralysis.
But based on previous polio outbreaks, “New Yorkers should be aware that for every observed case of paralytic polio, there may be hundreds of other people infected,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.
“Combined with the latest sewage findings, the Department views the single case of polio as the tip of the iceberg of a much larger potential spread,” she said. “As we learn more, what we know becomes clear: the danger of polio is present in New York today. We must meet this moment by making sure that adults, including pregnant women, and young children as young as 2 months old are up to date with their immunizations – the reliable protection against this debilitating virus that every New Yorker needs.”
A polio patient in Rockland County has become the first person to contract the virus in the United States in nearly a decade. Sewage samples collected in June and July in neighboring Orange County also contained the virus.
Polio, once one of the nation’s most feared diseases, was declared eradicated in the United States in 1979, more than two decades after vaccines became available.
Most people infected with polio do not have any symptoms, but can shed the virus and pass it on to others for days or weeks. A small percentage of people who get the disease suffer from paralysis. The disease is fatal for 5-10% of paralyzed people.
All school children in New York City are required to have the polio vaccine, but vaccination enforcement may be lax in some areas. Rockland and Orange counties are known as centers of vaccine resistance. Statewide, about 79% have completed the polio vaccination series by age two. In Orange County, the figure is 59%. In Rockland, it’s 60%.
Orange County wastewater samples were initially collected from the city’s wastewater treatment plant for testing for COVID-19.
“It is concerning that polio, a disease that has been largely eliminated by vaccination, is now spreading in our community, especially given the low vaccination rates against this debilitating disease in some areas of our county,” said Orange County Health Commissioner Irina Gelman. said. “I urge all unvaccinated Orange County residents to get vaccinated as soon as medically possible.”
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The report used information from CNN and the Associated Press.
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