New York has officially sounded an alarm over poliovirus in the state after health officials spotted the virus in more wastewater samples from the area.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday that the state would be stepping up its polio-fighting efforts amid the possible outbreak of polio. This was made after the disease-causing pathogen was detected in the wastewater of another county in the New York City area.
The latest viral detection was from a wastewater sample collected last month in Nassau County on Long Island. Previously, health officials detected the virus in sewage water from Rockland County in July, as per HuffPost.
Thus far, the virus has been detected in New York City and three counties to its north: Rockland, Orange and Sullivan. The latest detection showed that poliovirus could be more prevalent than previously thought.
State health officials said the samples tested positive for polio that could cause paralysis in humans, noting that unvaccinated individuals are at the highest risk of paralytic disease in the areas where the virus got detected.
The emergency declaration would highlight the state’s heightened efforts to contain the situation. This would expand the network of vaccine administrators in the affected areas to include pharmacists, midwives and EMS workers, CNBC reported.
New York Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett encouraged unvaccinated people to get their shots immediately to obtain protection amid the viral outbreak. She also urged individuals and families to reach out to their health care provider or county health department to make sure their shots are up to date.
“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice. I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all. Polio immunization is safe and effective — protecting nearly all people against disease who receive the recommended doses,” Bassett added.
In August, local health experts already predicted that the polio outbreak in New York could be worse than previously expected. They believed that hundreds of locals could have already been infected.
There’s been no update on the official number of transmissions or infections thus far. But experts expressed concern after learning about the alarmingly low vaccination rates in some New York counties, especially in Rockland (60%), Orange (58%), Sullivan (62%) and Nassau (79%). The new vaccination campaign hopes to raise the rates to above 90% statewide.