Polio virus found in New York wastewater after first confirmed case in a decade

The polio virus has been found in wastewater in a New York suburb since June.

The finding showed that the virus was possibly present in the community before the first confirmed case of the disease in nearly a decade was diagnosed last month.

The water sample was taken from Rockland County as part of surveillance efforts for Covid-19 and was tested for polio last week after concerns raised by the new case, which revealed the presence of a strain of poliovirus, health officials said. on Monday.

Laboratory tests also confirmed that the strain in the case is genetically linked to one found in Israel, although that does not mean the patient traveled to the country, officials added.

Genetic sequencing has also linked it to samples of the highly contagious and life-threatening virus in the UK, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

The presence of the virus in wastewater was an indication that more people in the community may be shedding the virus in their faeces, the CDC said in an emailed statement.

The health agency, however, added that there were no new cases identified and explained that it was still unclear whether the virus was actively spreading in New York or elsewhere in the US.

An adult was confirmed to have had polio on July 21, the first case of the disease in the US in nearly a decade.

The patient began showing symptoms in June, when local authorities urged doctors to keep an eye out for cases, according to the report. New York Times.

“Further investigations – both genetic and epidemiological – are ongoing to determine the possible spread of the virus and the potential risk associated with these various isolates detected in different locations around the world,” the Global Polio Eradication Initiative said in a statement.

“Given how quickly polio can spread, now is the time for all adults, parents and caregivers to vaccinate themselves and their children as soon as possible,” said state health commissioner Mary Bassett.

The New York State Department of Health told Reuters that, based on the available evidence, it was not able to conclude with certainty whether the positive polio samples resulted from the case identified in Rockland County.

“Certainly when samples like these are identified, it raises concerns about the potential for community spread – which is why it is extremely important that any unvaccinated person, particularly in the Rockland County area, be vaccinated as soon as possible.” said the statement. said the department.

Polio – a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus that has paralyzed or killed millions of children around the world before aggressive vaccination attempts began – still has no cure.

It can only be prevented by vaccination.

New York officials said they are opening vaccine clinics to help unvaccinated residents get their shots.

The inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is the only polio vaccine that has been administered in the US since 2000, according to the CDC. It is given as an injection in the leg or arm, depending on the age of the patient.

Polio is often asymptomatic, and people can spread the virus even when they don’t look sick. But it can produce mild, flu-like symptoms that can take up to 30 days to appear, officials said.

It can strike at any age, but most people affected are children three years old or younger.

While many countries like the US have not seen a case of polio in years, the disease has not gone completely extinct. Cases, however, have dropped significantly over the past two decades.

Additional reports by agencies

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