ALBANY, NY – New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Friday the state is stepping up polio efforts as the virus that causes the life-threatening disease was detected in another county’s sewage. of the New York area.
Health officials began looking for signs of the virus in sewage after the first case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade was identified in July in Rockland County, north of the city. . The latest detection was in a sewage sample taken last month in Nassau County on Long Island, directly east of the city.
The sample is genetically linked to the Rockland polio case and provides further evidence of expanding community spread, state health officials said. Poliovirus had previously been detected in sewage from New York and three northern counties: Rockland, Orange and Sullivan.
Hochul has declared a state disaster emergency that allows EMS workers, midwives and pharmacists to administer polio vaccines and allows doctors to issue standing orders for the vaccine. Immunization data will be used to focus immunization efforts where they are needed most.
“On polio, we just can’t roll the dice,” said state health commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a prepared statement. “If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up to date on your vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real. I urge New Yorkers not to accept any risk.”
Health officials said all unvaccinated New York residents — including 2-month-old children, pregnant women and those who haven’t completed their rounds of vaccines — should get vaccinated immediately. They also asked for reminders for certain people, such as health workers in affected areas who treat patients who may have polio.
The statewide polio vaccination rate is 79%, but Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan counties had lower rates.
Officials said it’s possible that hundreds of people in the state have contracted polio and don’t know it. Most people infected with poliomyelitis have no symptoms but can still transmit the virus to others for days or weeks.
The only confirmed case in New York was in an unidentified young adult who was unvaccinated.