New York’s health commissioner said Thursday that the state is treating its lone polio case — the first patient infected with the virus in the U.S. in nearly a decade — as the “tip of the iceberg.”
“Based on previous polio outbreaks, New Yorkers should know that for every single case of paralytic polio, hundreds of other people are infected,” said state health commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a statement.
“Combined with the latest sewage investigations, the department is treating a single case of polio as the tip of the iceberg for a much higher potential outbreak. As we learn more, what we know is clear: Polio is at risk in New York today. Adults, including pregnant women, and children under 2 months of age should be up-to-date on their immunizations. We must meet this moment by looking after — the safe protection against this debilitating virus that every New Yorker needs,” she said.
After polio was detected in Rockland County, the virus was also found in sewage samples from Orange County and Rockland County, the state Department of Health said.
NY Polio fears are growing over potential ‘community spread’ of the dangerous virus
Officials found seven positive samples from Rockland County and Orange County that were genetically linked to a previously identified individual case of paralytic polio.
“These findings provide further evidence of local—rather than international—polio virus transmission causing paralysis and potential community spread, which underscores the urgency for every New Yorker’s adults and children, especially those in the New York metropolitan area.” Department wrote.
The investigation into the origin of the virus is ongoing.
New York County urges residents to get vaccinated after first polio case in years
All unvaccinated New Yorkers should be immunized immediately, with residents of those counties and the greater New York metropolitan area at greatest risk of exposure.
Although there is no cure for polio, it can be prevented by vaccination.
Polio is highly contagious, and a person can transmit the virus even if they are not sick.
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Symptoms can take up to 30 days to appear, and in some cases paralysis or death can occur.