(CNN) — Poliovirus has been detected in sewage samples in New York City, suggesting possible local circulation of the virus, according to state and local health officials.
Officials underscore the urgency of keeping up with polio vaccinations, specifically people in the New York metropolitan area.
Most people in the United States are protected against polio through vaccination. However, unvaccinated or undervaccinated people are vulnerable, and polio can cause incurable paralysis and death.
Most people with polio do not have any symptoms. Some have flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat, fever, tiredness, and nausea.
“For every identified case of paralytic polio, hundreds more may go undetected,” said Dr. Mary T. Bassett, state health commissioner. “The detection of poliovirus in sewage samples in New York City is alarming, but not surprising.”
The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, said that with polio circulating in our communities, “there is simply nothing more essential than vaccinating our children to protect them from this virus, and if you are an unvaccinated adult or are incompletely vaccinated, please choose to get vaccinated now.”
This comes after the identification of a case of paralytic polio in a Rockland County resident on July 21 and detection in sewage samples in May, June and July from neighboring Rockland and Orange counties.
Officials say routine vaccination coverage has declined among New York City children since 2019, noting that only 86.2% of New York City children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years have received three doses of the polio vaccine, meaning nearly 14% are not fully protected.