New York warns of possible “community spread” of polio and urges the public to get vaccinated
Authorities warn of potential "community spread" of polio in New York and ask the public to get vaccinated immediately.
- Authorities warn of potential “community spread” of polio in New York.
- They ask the public to get vaccinated immediately.
- The disease was one of the most feared in the US decades ago.
New York state health officials issued a more urgent call on Thursday, August 4, for adults and children who are not vaccinated against polio to be inoculated, citing new evidence of possible “community spread” of the dangerous virus.
The polio virus has been detected in seven different samples of wastewater in two counties adjacent to New York City, health authorities reported, according to the AP on Friday, August 5.
New York warns of possible “community spread” of dangerous polio virus
So far, only one person has tested positive for polio in New York. He is an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County who suffered from paralysis. But based on past outbreaks of the disease, “New Yorkers should know that for every reported case of paralytic polio, there may be hundreds of people infected,” said state health commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a statement.
“Together with the latest findings in sewage samples, the department is treating the single case of polio as the tip of the iceberg of a much larger potential spread,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, according to the report.
Authorities ask the public in New York to get vaccinated for polio
In turn, the official added: “As we learn more, what we know is clear: the danger of polio is present in New York today. We must meet this moment by ensuring that adults, including pregnant women, and young children up to two months of age are up to date on their immunizations, the safe protection against this debilitating virus that every New Yorker needs.”
The Rockland County polio patient is the first case of a person known to be infected with the virus in the United States in nearly a decade. Wastewater samples collected in June and July in neighboring Orange County also contained the virus, the AP report said.
Polio was one of the most feared diseases in the United States
Polio, once one of the most feared diseases in the country, was declared eradicated in the United States in 1979, more than two decades after vaccines became available, the AP also explained.
Most people who get polio have no symptoms but can continue to spread the virus to others for days or weeks. A small percentage of people who are infected become paralyzed. The disease is fatal for between 5 and 10% of those paralyzed, the report warned.
When was the case detected?
An unvaccinated young adult in New York contracted polio recently, the first case in the United States in nearly a decade, health officials said Thursday, July 21. Authorities said the patient, who lives in Rockland County, had developed paralysis, according to The Associated Press.
The infected person developed symptoms a month ago and has not recently traveled outside the country, county health officials said. It appears the patient had a vaccine-derived strain of the virus, perhaps from someone who received a live vaccine — available in other countries but not in the United States — and spread it, officials said at the time. The person is no longer considered contagious, but researchers are trying to find out how the infection occurred and if other people were exposed to the virus.