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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Bruce Blakeman: Polio virus detected in wastewater in several Nassau communities

Polio virus has been detected in wastewater samples taken from North Hempstead, county officials announced Friday, the first trace of the once-eradicated disease in Nassau. 

Officials said the virus has been identified in wastewater collected from sewers in areas including Manhasset, Port Washington and Glenwood Landing. 

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman in a morning briefing said the county Department of Health was working closely with officials from the state and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to respond to the new finding through stepped up vaccination awareness and communication with local physicians. 

“There is no crisis right now. There is no reported, active case of polio in Nassau County,” Blakeman said. “We need to be vigilant … We’re being very, very cautious and monitoring the situation.” 

Nassau is among several dozen municipalities where CDC testing has found traces of the virus, including in New York City last month.

Polio, which was declared eradicated in the U.S. in 1979 after mass vaccination efforts, can be a serious and debilitating illness that affects the brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis in some cases.

As of Friday, there was one reported case of polio in New York State in a Rockland County resident. 

Blakeman urged residents to check on their vaccine status and that of their young children. 

Nassau Interim Health Commissioner Andrew Knecht said health officials were still determining whether the virus traces found in wastewater were linked to an actual polio case, or possibly to an international traveler who may have taken the oral vaccine that was shed through stool.

The polio vaccine is required for children to attend school in New York, and is dispensed in a series of four shots received in early childhood. 

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