Health officials confirmed Friday that the polio virus was found in New York City’s wastewater, suggesting that the disease is spreading throughout the unvaccinated population.
The presence of polio in wastewater in New York City was said to be “alarming but not surprising,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett commented, according to The Associated Press. “The risk to New Yorkers is real but the defense is so simple — get vaccinated against polio,” NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan noted, the AP reported.
“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. Polio is entirely preventable and its reappearance should be a call to action for all of us,” Vasan continued, the outlet noted.
The presence of the virus in the city’s sewage suggests it’s a localized circulation, the city and state’s health departments said, The Associated Press reported. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokesperson said on Thursday that a case of polio was detected in July in New York state, the first confirmed case in the U.S. for more than 10 years, The Hill reported.
REPORT: Strange New Virus With High Fatality Rate In China Has Infected 35 Peoplehttps://t.co/8wd3uVLQPg
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The patient is a 20-year-old unvaccinated man from Rockland County who presented with symptoms including paralysis, according to The Hill. Most people who contract polio do not exhibit symptoms but can still spread it.
“There are a number of individuals in the community that have been infected with poliovirus. They are shedding the virus,” CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Director Jose Romero told CNN, “The spread is always a possibility because the spread is going to be silent.” (RELATED: Woman Issues Warning After She Says Her Lung ‘Spontaneously’ Collapsed, Coughed Up Blood)
CDC disease detectives said they are “quite nervous” that polio “could mushroom out of control very quickly and we could have a crisis on our hands,” CNN reported. The CDC is considering a number of options to protect residents from the virus, but do not “have a definitive answer” on how to deal with the outbreak at present.