The officials underscore the urgency of staying up to date with polio immunizations, specifically those in the greater NY metro area.
Most people in the US are protected from polio because of vaccination. However, unvaccinated and undervaccinated people are vulnerable, and polio can cause incurable paralysis and death.
Most people with polio do not have any symptoms. Some have flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, fever, tiredness and nausea.
“For every one case of paralytic polio identified, hundreds more may be undetected,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “The detection of poliovirus in wastewater samples in New York City is alarming, but not surprising.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said that with polio circulating in our communities, “there is simply nothing more essential than vaccinating our children to protect them from this virus, and if you’re an unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated adult, please choose now to get the vaccine.”
This comes after the identification of a case of paralytic polio in a Rockland County resident on July 21, and the detection in wastewater samples in May, June and July from Rockland and Orange counties neighboring the city.
Officials say routine vaccine coverage has fallen among New York City children since 2019, noting only 86.2% of NYC children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years old have received three doses of the polio vaccine, meaning nearly 14% are not fully protected.