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Polio detected again in wastewater in community with low vaccine rate

A New York community with a high rate of people who are unvaccinated against polio may once again be dealing with a spreading virus.
Polio detected again in wastewater in community with low vaccine rate
Posted at 12:06 PM, Mar 29, 2023

Six months after it last observed polio in wastewater in Rockland County, New York, officials said it has once again detected strains of the virus in the water. 

Last summer, officials in Rockland and Orange Counties announced they detected polio in wastewater. The detection indicated that there could have been numerous cases of the virus in the community. 

In October 2022, officials announced that an unvaccinated New York man was paralyzed by a polio infection. 

The latest positive wastewater test came last month, but officials said subsequent tests have come up negative. Regardless, officials have been urging those who are not vaccinated to get a shot. 

Officials in the county have administered over 19,000 shots since October. Although most of those have been to children under the age of 4, over 600 adults have gotten vaccinated. 

Orange and Rockland counties have the two lowest polio vaccination rates among toddlers in New York State, both at around 60%. 

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“It is our obligation to protect all our residents from these debilitating and potentially fatal diseases. The law requiring childhood vaccinations has been in place for many years for this very reason,” said County Executive Ed Day. “I urge our residents to act now and protect yourselves, your family, and your community.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that most people infected with poliovirus, the virus that causes polio, do not experience symptoms. In severe cases of polio, it can cause permanent disability and death.

Nationally, 92% of children are fully vaccinated against polio by 24 months, the CDC said. The vaccine is considered 99% effective after three doses.