NEW YORK (AP) — The virus that causes polio has been found in New York City sewage, health officials said Friday, suggesting that the disease, which has not been seen in the United States for a decade, is quietly spreading among unvaccinated populations. .
The presence of poliovirus in the city’s sewage indicates local transmission of the virus, according to city health officials, New York state and the federal government.
Officials urged parents to vaccinate their children against the deadly disease.
“The risk to New Yorkers is real but protection is very simple – get vaccinated against polio,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “As polio continues to spread in our communities, there is nothing more urgent than vaccinating our children against this virus, and if you are an unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated adult, choose to get vaccinated now. Polio is completely preventable and its resurgence should be a call to action for all of us.
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Dr. Jose R. Romero said, “It’s relaxing; We know that polio spreads silently, and these communities may have many people who have polio and shed the virus. It is an urgent and living reminder of the importance of vaccination.
New York City is forced to confront polio as city health officials struggle to vaccinate vulnerable populations against monkey flu. and changes to the Covid-19 guidelines.
“We’re dealing with a trifecta,” Mayor Eric Adams said Friday on CNN. “Covid is still very much here. Polio, we’ve found polio in our sewage, and we’re still dealing with a monkeypox crisis. But the team is there. We’re coordinating, we’re facing threats as they come our way, and we’re ready to deal with them with the help of Washington, DC.
The announcement of the discovery of the polio virus in New York City comes shortly after British health officials said they had found evidence of the virus spreading in London and found no public exposure. Children aged 1-9 in London were made eligible for a booster dose Polio vaccination on Wednesday.
In Rockland County, New York, a polio infection left a person paralyzed weeks ago. North of the city. The virus was detected in wastewater samples collected in Rockland and adjacent Orange County in June.
CDC officials said there was not enough genetic material to determine whether the virus identified in wastewater samples collected in New York City was linked to the Rockland County patient.
Most people infected with polio have no symptoms, but can still pass the virus to others for days or weeks. The vaccine offers strong protection, and officials urged those who haven’t received the shots to seek one immediately.
Officials said based on past outbreaks, hundreds of people in the state were infected with polio and did not know it.
Polio was once one of the country’s most feared diseases, with annual outbreaks paralyzing thousands. This disease mostly affects children.
Vaccines have been available since 1955, and national vaccination campaigns have reduced the annual number of U.S. cases to less than 100 in the 1960s and less than 10 in the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A small percentage of those infected with polio suffer from paralysis. The disease is fatal in 5-10% of disabled people.
Polio vaccination is required for all school children in New York, but Rockland and Orange counties are known as hotspots of vaccine resistance.
According to the CDC’s most recent childhood vaccination data, 93% of 2-year-old children have received at least three doses of polio vaccine. But in New York state, the rate is only 80%, and it’s even lower in areas where polio cases have been reported — just 60% in Rockland County and 59% in Orange County, according to state data.