Polio Virus Found In New York Wastewater Before First Confirmed Case

Health officials in New York said that the polio virus was detected in wastewater samples taken at least one month before a patient was confirmed to have contracted the virus. It was the first reported case of polio in the state since 2013.

Officials initially tested the wastewater sample for COVID-19 as part of surveillance efforts. It was not tested for the presence of polio at the time, but after a Rockland County man tested positive for polio, officials went back and retested the water samples.

The presence of polio in the water suggests that people could be contagious and shedding the virus in their stool. However, despite the finding, officials have not reported any other cases of polio.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that laboratory tests showed the polio virus was genetically similar to a strain found in Israel and one that is spreading in the United Kingdom.

There is no cure for polio, though it was effectively eradicated in the United States following a mass vaccination campaign in the mid-to-late 1950s. It can take up to 30 days after infection for somebody with polio to show flu-like symptoms, though they can still spread the virus during that time.

In rare cases, polio can cause irreversible paralysis.

Health officials in New York have set up vaccination clinics and are urging those who are unvaccinated to get their shots.

“Given how quickly polio can spread, now is the time for every adult, parent, and guardian to get themselves and their children vaccinated as soon as possible,” New York Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said.

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