The cess-pit that is New York now reporting crippling disease eradicated decades ago in wastewater

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The Terrifying Polio Pandemic of 1949-52: Many people infected with polio don’t show any symptoms. Some become temporarily paralyzed; for others, it’s permanent. In 1952, the polio epidemic reached a peak in U.S.: almost 58,000 reported cases and more than 3,000 deaths.

New York state health officials have found indications of additional cases of polio virus in wastewater samples from two different counties, leading them to warn that hundreds of people may be infected with the potentially serious virus.

On July 21, 2022, health authorities in NY alerted the public to a case of confirmed poliomyelitis in an UNVACCINATED, previously healthy, young adult, county resident who presented with leg paralysis.

While this is the only identified case so far, most people who get infected with poliovirus  will not have any visible symptoms. An infected person may spread the virus to others even if they do not have symptoms. The virus can also live in an infected person’s feces for many weeks and can contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions. 

The county is continuing to conduct surveillance activities to assess the risk to the community (i.e, determine if the virus is circulating).

There is negligible risk to those who are fully vaccinated. Those who are unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated are at risk of contracting and spreading polio, and RCDOH strongly urges seeking polio vaccination without delay.

The INACTIVATED POLIO VACCINE (IPV) is the only polio vaccine given in the US since 2000. It is safe and effective. There is no risk of getting or spreading polio with IPV.

Three positive wastewater samples from Rockland County and four from neighboring Orange County were discovered and genetically linked to the first case, the health department said in a press release on Thursday, suggesting that the polio virus is being spread within local communities. The newest samples were taken from two locations in Orange County in June and July and one location in Rockland County in July.