HealthDay News — State and local health officials have detected the poliovirus in New York City’s wastewater, a finding that indicates the virus has spread widely since first being discovered in the wastewater of a neighboring county last month.

The New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene both advised New Yorkers to get vaccinated now if they have not already completed their series of polio shots.

The discovery of poliovirus in sewage samples suggests there is already community transmission of the virus. This discovery is the latest in the state, where a case of polio was confirmed July 21, 2022, in Rockland County, which left the man with paralysis. Rockland County is 42 miles north of New York City, west of the Hudson river. Poliovirus was also found in wastewater samples from both Rockland and Orange counties in May, June, and July. Orange county is 67 miles north of New York City and north of Rockland Country.


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Lower vaccine coverage rates have put communities at risk for outbreaks. Only about 86% of New York City children aged 6 months to 5 years have received 3 doses of the polio vaccine. Neighborhoods where coverage is less than 70% of children are of particular concern, public health officials said. In Rockland County, vaccine rates are even lower, at just over 60%. In Orange County, the rate of vaccination is under 59%. In New York, the statewide rate is nearly 79% among children who have received 3 polio immunizations before the age of 2 years, officials said.

Most people infected with the virus do not have any symptoms. Some will have flu-like symptoms, including sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, and stomach pain. About 1 in 25 people infected with poliovirus will get viral meningitis, and about 1 in 200 will become paralyzed.

Inactivated poliovirus vaccine is the only polio vaccine that has been given in the United States since 2000, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It protects 99% of children who get all the recommended doses.

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