New York Governor Cathy Hochhol declared a polio disaster emergency on Friday. After polio virus samples were found in wastewater in Nassau County, according to the NYSDOH (New York State Department of Health).
This is not the first time this year that the presence of the pathogen in wastewater has been verified in New York State. After confirming a case of paralytic polio in an unvaccinated man in Rockland County, the New York Department of Health began monitoring wastewater — a tool that checks community wastewater for signs of the virus — as people infected with the polio virus shed the virus in their feces.
CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) sequencing analysis found poliovirus in samples collected in Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, New York, and now Nassau counties.
The sample collected last month in Nassau is genetically related to a case of paralytic polio that was identified in Rockland County, further evidence of the virus spreading in the community.
The New York Department of Health noted in a statement: “All of the reported samples are samples of concern, which means they are types of polioviruses that can cause paralysis in humans.”
To control the problem, the state launched a massive vaccination campaign for all unvaccinated New Yorkers, including babies under two months old, pregnant women, and people who had not previously completed a polio vaccination schedule.
Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and director of the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), highlighted concern about a resurgence of the disease, which the World Health Organization (WHO) considers eradicated in 1988.
“Polio was an unusual concern, with hundreds of thousands of cases and tens of thousands of deaths occurring during the time period leading up to the introduction of the Salk vaccine, and in that time there was a major shift in what we might call eradication of control and then essentially eradication.”
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