Paralyzing Polio Virus Spreading in Hudson Valley, New York State
There are growing concerns about the spread of polio in New York after the virus was found in another county in the region.
On Friday, the New York State Department of Health confirmed polio was found in Sullivan County.
Polio Found in Sullivan County, New York
Analysis performed by CDC has now detected poliovirus in four samples from Sullivan County, according to the New York State Department of Health.
"There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented with safe and effective vaccination which has been available for a very long time in the U.S. to eliminate the disease. Polio is among the top preventable diseases, and we have the ability to stop this in its tracks as long as people take the importance of immunizations seriously," Sullivan County Department Public Health Director Nancy McGraw said.
Two of the Sullivan County samples were collected in July and the two were collected in August.
"Sullivan County is taking all reasonable steps to monitor the situation and keep the people of the County safe. We urge parents and adults to be vigilant and aware of their vaccination status, because polio is a disease that can be eliminated through vaccination," Sullivan County Manager Joshua A. Potosek said.
All of the samples are genetically linked to the case of paralytic polio previously identified in Rockland County, officials say.
"All samples reported are samples of concern, meaning they are types of poliovirus that can cause paralysis in humans," the New York State Department of Health stated.
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.
"One New Yorker paralyzed by polio is already too many, and I do not want to see another paralytic case," State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said after confirmed polio in Sullivan County. "Polio in New York today is an imminent threat to all adults and children who are unvaccinated or not up to date with their polio immunizations. Every New Yorker, parent, guardian, and pediatrician must do everything possible to ensure they, their children, and their patients are protected against this dangerous, debilitating disease through safe and effective vaccination."
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
In early August 2022, the New York State Department of Health confirmed the polio virus was found in wastewater samples from June and July in two geographically different locations in Orange County and July samples from Rockland County.
Polio was also found in wastewater samples in June in Rockland County. Officials have now confirmed at least 15 positive samples of polio in wastewater in the Hudson Valley. Four from Sullivan County, at least six from Rockland County, and at least five in Orange County.
"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."
New Yorkers Urged To Get Vaccinated
Health officials are urging all to get vaccinated.
"To protect adults and children against paralytic disease, every adult and child must get immunized against polio and stay up to date with polio immunizations.
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.