Polio has been found in New York City sewage, causing concern that the virus may be spreading among residents, state health officials said Friday.
Wastewater samples taken from the city and provided to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated the the presence of the virus, suggesting a local spread of the virus, city and health officials said.
No cases of polio have been reported in New York City, but State Health Commissioner Dr Mary T Bassett warned: ‘For ever one case of paralytic polio identified, hundreds more may be undetected.’
The discovery comes nearly a month after a case of paralytic polio was . State health officials confirmed that an unvaccinated adult caught polio and suffered paralysis as a result.
Soon after, polio was detected in the wastewater.
The wastewater collected in New York City did not contain enough genetic material to determine if they were linked to the case patient in Rockland County, CDC spokesperson Kate Grusich told Metro.co.uk.
Genetic sequencing shows these are Sabin-like type 2 (SL2) viruses related to the virus sequenced from the stool sample of the patient from Rockland County. In addition, poliovirus has now been identified in some wastewater samples collected in New York City, but these samples did not contain enough genetic material to determine if they were linked to the case patient.
Detection of the virus in wastewater could be followed by more cases of paralytic polio, health officials warn. The vaccination rate across the city fell from the start of the pandemic, meaning a higher risk of outbreaks.
Only 86 percent of children in New York City between the ages of 6 months and 5-years have received three doses of the polio vaccine. Of the greatest concern to health officials, however, are some neighborhoods where less than 70 percent of children in that age group have received the vaccine. Areas with the lowest vaccination rate include Williamsburg, Battery Park City and Bedford-Stuyvesant
Polio can cause permanent paralysis of the arms and legs, and even death in some cases. Health officials are urging people who are not vaccinated to get inoculated immediately.
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