NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Polio has now been detected in wastewater samples in two bordering Hudson Valley counties, indicating that the virus is spreading within the community, New York state health officials said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found polio in samples taken from two different locations in Orange County in June and July, the Department of Health said in a statement.
“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,” officials said.
The Global Polio Laboratory Network, which includes the CDC and the World Health Organization, received these samples and confirmed that the Rockland County case is genetically linked to two type 2 Sabin-like isolates, which were obtained from the early June Rockland County samples, samples from greater Jerusalem, Israel, as well as recently-detected environmental samples in London. The Rockland County man has no known travel to Israel.
Health officials have said the Rockland County 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.
New York health officials said they could not conclusively say whether the Rockland County samples came from the man, who developed symptoms in June.
As to the wider implications, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative said in a statement last Friday 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.
“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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.