In the US, polio is actually considered eradicated. But in the state of New York, polioviruses have repeatedly been found in wastewater in recent weeks. Now the authorities are sounding the alarm.
More evidence of poliovirus in sewage has put New York State on alert. Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state-wide emergency in relation to the dangerous disease polio. After Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties and New York City, polioviruses were recently found in sewage in Nassau County. With the disaster, for example, the network of providers who are allowed to administer a polio vaccination was expanded as an immediate measure - to emergency responders, midwives and pharmacists.
The health authority urged all residents who were insufficiently or not at all vaccinated to be immunized. New York's health officer Mary Bassett wrote in a statement to parents to vaccinate their children quickly: "If your child is not vaccinated or the vaccination status is not up to date, then the risk of a debilitating disease is real."
Polio is divided into wild-type and vaccine-derived viruses. Wild poliovirus has been found in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but was also detected in Africa this year. Polio cases in several countries can also be caused by viruses from live vaccines. In the USA and also in Germany only inactive polio vaccine is used. The authorities did not write whether the viruses found in the wastewater came from a vaccine or whether it was the wild type of the polio virus.
For a long time, the contagious infectious disease was also considered eradicated in the USA. The disclosure of individual cases in the summer raised concerns about the spread in the metropolis of New York. The disease can cause paralysis and death, and small children in particular can suffer permanent paralysis. The highly contagious virus is often spread through contaminated water. So far there is no cure for polio, the virus has been defeated with nationwide vaccinations.