Paralyzing Polio Forces New York To Declare State Of Emergency
There are growing concerns about the spread of polio in New York.
On Friday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency over polio, which is spreading across New York State.
“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” New York Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett stated. “I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all. Polio immunization is safe and effective — protecting nearly all people against disease who receive the recommended doses.”
Hochul's executive order declaring a State Disaster Emergency increases the availability of resources to protect New Yorkers against paralytic polio disease, officials say.
Polio was declared eliminated in the United States in 1979, primarily due to high vaccination rates against polio. Routine vaccination rates against polio across all ages have decreased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine hesitancy has increased.
The State government must support the municipalities, localities, and counties in their efforts to facilitate and administer vaccinations and tests for poliovirus and to prevent the disease from continuing to spread," State Disaster Emergency states.
Rockland County, New York Resident Tests Positive For Polio
In late July, health officials confirmed a Rockland County resident tested positive for polio.
The virus left the young Rockland County resident paralyzed. It's believed the Rockland County resident got the virus from someone outside of the United States.
'Hundreds' In Hudson Valley or New York State Likely 'Infected' With Polio
The poliovirus that infected the Rockland County man was identified as a case of vaccine-derived poliovirus, the last of which was identified in New York in 1990.
Polioviruses have been detected in wastewater samples collected in Orange, Rockland, and Sullivan counties in April, May, June, July, and August 2022.
"Based on earlier polio outbreaks, New Yorkers should know that for every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of other people infected," Bassett said. "Coupled with the latest wastewater findings, the Department is treating the single case of polio as just the tip of the iceberg of much greater potential spread. As we learn more, what we do know is clear: the danger of polio is present in New York today."
Polio Found In Wastewater in Orange, Rockland, Sullivan, Nassau Counties
As of Sept 9, analysis by the CDC confirmed the presence of poliovirus in a total of 57 wastewater samples. 50 of those samples are genetically linked to the case of paralytic polio found in the Rockland County resident.
Of the 50 samples, 31 samples were collected in Rockland County, 13 from in Orange County, six were collected in Sullivan County, and 1 was found in Nassau County.
Facts About Polio
Polio is a viral disease that may affect the neurologic system, causing muscle weakness and, in certain cases, resulting in paralysis or death, according to health officials. The virus typically enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with the fecal matter of an infected person. Respiratory or oral transmission is less common but also possible.
Polio is very contagious. You can spread the virus without ever feeling sick. Symptoms that can be mild or flu-like can take up to 30 days to appear. During this timeframe, the infected person can spread the virus. Up to 95 percent of infected people show no symptoms but can still spread the virus, according to health officials.
"Though rare, some polio cases can result in paralysis or death," the New York State Department of Health states.