Poliovirus Discovered in NYC Wastewater


FRIDAY, Aug. 12, 2022 — State and local health officials have detected the poliovirus in New York City’s wastewater, a finding that indicates the virus has spread widely since first being discovered in the wastewater of a neighboring county last month.

The New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene both advised New Yorkers to get vaccinated now if they have not already completed their series of polio shots.

The discovery of poliovirus in sewage samples suggests there is already community transmission of the virus. This discovery is the latest in the state, where a case of polio was confirmed July 21 in Rockland County. Poliovirus was also found in wastewater samples from both Rockland and Orange counties in May, June, and July.

Lower vaccine coverage rates have put communities at risk for outbreaks. Only about 86 percent of New York City children ages 6 months to 5 years have received three doses of the polio vaccine. Neighborhoods where coverage is less than 70 percent of children are of particular concern, public health officials said. In Rockland County, vaccine rates are even lower, at just over 60 percent. In Orange County, the rate is just under 59 percent. Statewide, the rate is nearly 79 percent among children who have received three polio immunizations before the age of 2 years, officials said.

Most people infected with the virus do not have any symptoms. Some will have flu-like symptoms, including sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, and stomach pain. About one in 25 people infected with poliovirus will get viral meningitis, and about one in 200 will become paralyzed.

Inactivated poliovirus vaccine is the only polio vaccine that has been given in the United States since 2000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It protects 99 percent of children who get all the recommended doses.

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