ALBANY, NY (TBEN) — The polio virus was detected in sewage samples from the suburban county near New York City, where an unvaccinated adult recently contracted the life-threatening illness, but health officials said Tuesday they have not identified any additional cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus’s presence was detected in wastewater samples collected in Rockland County in early June, where officials announced July 21 the first case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade.
The unidentified young adult had a strain of the virus that has since been genetically linked to samples found in Rockland County sewage, as well as samples in London and the Jerusalem area.
The CDC said in a prepared statement that the wastewater sample from New York shows there may be more people in the community who are shedding the virus.
“However, it is important to note that at this time we do not have enough information to determine whether the virus is actively spreading in New York or elsewhere in the US, and no additional cases have been identified,” the CDC said.
Health officials have said the patient received a “vaccine-derived” strain of the virus, meaning it likely came from someone who had been vaccinated with a live vaccine — available in other countries, but not the US. In rare cases, people who have the live virus can spread it to other people who have not been vaccinated.
New York health officials said they couldn’t say for sure whether the Rockland County samples came from the patient, who developed symptoms in June.
As for the broader implications, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative said in a statement Friday that genetic and epidemiological studies are trying to “determine the potential spread of the virus and the potential risk associated with these different isolates found in different locations around the world.” have been detected.”
Polio, once one of the country’s most feared diseases, was declared eradicated in the United States in 1979, more than two decades after vaccines became available.
Its discovery in the densely populated suburbs north of New York City sparked a local vaccination campaign.
“Given how quickly polio can spread, now is the time for every adult, parent and guardian to get themselves and their children vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, New York State Commissioner of Health.