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NY: Latest CDC Findings Indicate ‘Potential Community Spread’ of Polio in Hudson Valley



What to Know

  • The polio virus was detected in wastewater samples from the suburban county near New York City where an unvaccinated adult recently contracted the life-threatening disease.
  • However, health officials said Tuesday they have not identified any additional cases.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the presence of the virus was detected in wastewater samples collected in early June from Rockland County, where officials on July 21 announced the first case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade.

The CDC has detected more polio virus in more Hudson Valley wastewater samples — and New York health officials are now warning the latest environmental evidence indicates “potential community spread” of a childhood disease that the United States declared eradicated more than four decades ago.

The state health department launched wastewater surveillance earlier this month after officials announced the first confirmed polio case in a U.S. resident in nearly a decade an unvaccinated patient in Rockland County in the Hudson Valley — on July 21. Such surveillance is a critical detection tool that can assess potential community spread of polio, New York health officials say, and they’re testing samples throughout the state to be thorough in their investigation. Those get sent to the CDC.

And the CDC has found more polio, according to New York state. The health agency detected the virus in wastewater samples taken from June and July in two geographically different locations in Orange County, it said.

“These environmental findings—which further indicate potential community spread—in addition to the paralytic polio case identified among a Rockland County resident, underscore the urgency of every New York adult and child getting immunized against polio, especially those in the greater New York metropolitan area,” the statement continued.

Health officials say the samples from the confirmed Rockland County case appear genetically linked to two collected from the early June samples from Rockland County and samples from greater Jerusalem, Israel as well as to the recently-detected environmental samples in London. The Rockland County resident has no known travel to Israel, officials said.

Learn more about polio from NYSDOH here.


Health officials have said the patient had acquired a “vaccine-derived” strain of the virus, meaning it probably originated in someone who had been inoculated with a live vaccine — available in other countries, but not the U.S. In rare instances, people given the live virus can spread it to other people who haven’t been vaccinated.

As to the wider implications, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative said last week that genetic and epidemiological investigations are attempting “to determine possible spread of the virus and potential risk associated with these various isolates detected from different locations around the world.”

Polio, once one of the nation’s most feared diseases, was declared eliminated in the United States in 1979, more than two decades after vaccines became available. Its discovery in Rockland County prompted a local vaccine drive.

“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,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.

Source: NBC New York


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