State urges polio vaccine in New York sewage

WASHINGTON, Aug 1 (Reuters) – State health officials said on Monday they had confirmed last month the presence of poliovirus in sewage from a suburb of New York City. Vaccinated.

The diagnosis from wastewater samples collected in June means the virus was in the community before the Rockland County adult’s diagnosis was made public on July 21. read more

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an emailed statement that the presence of the virus in sewage indicates that more people in the community may be shedding the virus in their feces.

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However, the CDC added that no new cases have been identified and it is not yet clear whether the virus is actively spreading in New York or elsewhere in the United States.

Laboratory tests confirmed that the strain in the case was genetically linked to one found in Israel, although that did not mean the patient had traveled to Israel, officials added. Genetic sequencing has also been linked to samples of the highly contagious and deadly virus in the United Kingdom, the CDC said.

According to the New York Times, the patient began exhibiting symptoms in June, prompting local officials to ask doctors to look for cases.

“Given how quickly polio spreads, it’s time for every adult, parent and guardian to get themselves and their children vaccinated as soon as possible,” said state health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

There is no cure for polio, which can sometimes cause irreversible paralysis, but it can be prevented with a vaccine that became available in 1955.

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New York officials have said they will open vaccination clinics for unvaccinated residents to get their shots. According to the CDC, inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is the only polio vaccine given in the United States since 2000. It is given by shot in the leg or arm, depending on the patient’s age.

Polio is often asymptomatic and people can spread the virus even if they don’t get 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 victims are children aged three and under.

The New York State Department of Health told Reuters it could not say for sure, based on available evidence, whether the positive polio samples came from a case identified in Rockland County.

“Certainly, when samples like this are identified, it raises concerns about the potential for community transmission — which is why it’s so important for anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated, especially in the Rockland County area, to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” the department said.

The polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk in the 1950s was heralded as a scientific breakthrough in combating the global scourge, now largely eradicated across the country. Although cases were detected in 1993 and 2013, the United States has not seen an outbreak of polio in the country since 1979.

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Report by Susan Heavey; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Christopher Cushing

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