Polio May Have Been Spreading in New York Since April

Polio may have been widespread for a year, and was present in New York wastewater as early as April. according to a new report From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A sample of wastewater taken in Orange County, New York, in April tested positive for the virus, beating the region’s earliest known detection. previously announced The virus was found in a sample of wastewater dating back to May in neighboring Rockland County.

Changes in the viral genome suggest that this version has been circulating somewhere in the world for up to a year. Genetically similar versions of the virus were detected in Israel in March and in the United Kingdom in June.

A new study provides details from an ongoing investigation into polio cases detected in New York last month. Officials have announced that a young adult in Rockland County has been paralyzed with polio.

Given that polio is highly contagious and often spreads without causing serious symptoms, the results are not entirely surprising, said Joseph Eisenberg, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Michigan. It could circulate quite extensively under the radar before we see actual cases of paralysis,” he said.

Officials had previously warned that the Rockland County patient was most likely the “tip of the iceberg.”

A new study reveals polio coverage in some county zip codes is only 37 percent.

The patient, who had not been vaccinated against polio, was hospitalized in June after developing symptoms including fever, neck stiffness and leg weakness. Poliovirus, which is spread primarily through faeces, was subsequently detected in the patient’s stool.

Genome sequencing revealed that the patient had been infected with a version of the virus derived from the oral polio vaccine, which contained an attenuated version of the virus. No oral vaccine has been used in the United States since 2000, he said.

Oral vaccines are safe and effective, but vaccinated people can shed the weakened virus in their stool for weeks and pass it on to others. In communities with large numbers of unvaccinated people, the virus may continue to circulate and eventually acquire enough mutations to become dangerous again.

The discovery of the Rockland case has prompted medical professionals to begin testing wastewater samples collected in the region, including those previously collected for coronavirus surveillance.

Authorities had previously announced that they had found the virus in 20 wastewater samples collected in Rockland and Orange counties, all of which were genetically linked to patient samples.

A new study reveals that a 21st sample collected in Orange County in April was also positive for the virus. was.

Polio was detected in 8% of 260 wastewater samples in Rockland and Orange counties tested as of August 10, according to a new study.

“This suggests that many communities are under the radar,” said John Dennehy, a virologist and wastewater monitoring expert at Queen’s University, in an email.

The virus was also detected in six New York City wastewater samples.

Patients in Rockland County were most likely exposed to polio one to three weeks before symptoms began, the report notes. The patient did not travel internationally during this time, but did attend “large gatherings,” according to the study.

Polio was detected in Rockland County wastewater 25 days before the patient’s onset of symptoms, suggesting that others had previously been infected.

“The fact that we saw it in the sewage system 25 days ago means he probably isn’t even a second case,” Dr. Eisenberg said.

People who receive three doses of inactivated polio vaccine are well protected from the virus, but the virus poses a potential danger to unvaccinated people, including children who are too young to be vaccinated. brings

Nationally, polio immunization coverage is relatively high. But there are parts of the country, including New York, where vaccination coverage is much lower, and the pandemic has set back child vaccination campaigns.

As of July 2020, only 67% of children in Rockland County over the age of 24 had received three doses of polio vaccine, a figure that had dropped to 60% by this month, according to the study. decreased to

After the Rockland County case was discovered, the local health department launched a vaccination campaign, but said the number of shots given “wasn’t enough to significantly increase” vaccination rates. Researchers report.

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