NASSAU COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) — Nassau is the last county in the state to detect polio in sewage, indicating community spread.
Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state disaster emergency amid “evidence of circulating polio.”
The declaration will allow more types of providers to administer the polio vaccine, such as pharmacists, making it easier to obtain it.
This does not mean that there is an epidemic. But this means that if there is an epidemic, the vaccine will prevent any further spread.
Polio has already been detected in sewage collected in samples from Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties and New York.
The strains recovered from sewage from the previous three counties and New York were all genetically linked to the only polio case identified in the state – a resident of Rockland County.
At a press conference Friday, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman stressed that there were no polio cases in the county.
“I don’t want to alarm anyone, no cases of polio have been discovered here in this area or in Nassau County,” Blakeman said. “No one should panic, there is no crisis right now, there are no active polio cases in Nassau County.”
Polio strands have been detected during routine sewage testing for various viruses, including the coronavirus. Testing has been routine for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“They’ve been key because what they allow us to do is figure out if there’s a spike before people actually show the symptoms and report that to their doctors, so that makes us gain days when we can prepare,” Blakeman said. .
A trace of poliovirus has emerged believed to be from the North Shore region which includes Manhasset, Port Washington, Roslyn and Glenwood Landing.
The sample was taken from the local sewage treatment plant and sent to the state.
It could mean one of two things – either someone recently received an oral vaccine that is not available in the United States. Traces of the virus would be found in the wastewater.
“If we have subsequent tests that continue to be positive, that will kind of give us an idea if this is an ongoing situation or if this was just a single test,” said Nassau County Acting Health Commissioner Andrew Knect.
The other possibility is that someone there has the virus and hasn’t been reported because they are asymptomatic.
“About 74% of people who get it have no symptoms,” Knecht said. “So it’s possible that is the case and people just need to be vigilant about their vaccination status. Because that’s the only way to protect themselves.”
The Ministry of Health is urging all those who have not yet done so to get the polio vaccine. Nassau County officials said they called the state and the CDC to make sure the county had enough vaccines that anyone who didn’t have one could get one right away.
All affected counties have low polio vaccination rates among young children.
Among children who were vaccinated against poliomyelitis before their second birthday:
-Rockland County has a polio vaccination rate of 60.34%
– Orange County has a polio vaccination rate of 58.68%
-Sullivan County has a polio vaccination rate of 62.33%
-Nassau County has a polio immunization rate of 79.15%, compared to the state average of 78.96%,
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