Polio Virus Found In Wastewater Of New York City Suburb

Polio Virus Found In Wastewater Of New York City Suburb

In a recent study, scientists discovered the polio virus in wastewater in Rockland County, a New York City suburb. The findings are concerning considering that this area has not seen a polio outbreak for nearly a decade. On July 21, county officials announced that an unvaccinated adult had contracted the polio virus from Rockland County wastewater. These samples have been genetically linked to polio cases in Jerusalem and London.

The outbreak is a concern, as the polio vaccination rate is very low in Rockland County. The rate of two-year-olds being vaccinated is only 60.5 percent, which is below the statewide average of 77.1 percent. In comparison, the US polio vaccination rate is 92.6 percent. The virus was found in wastewater from the Rockland County area in early June, which is in the Northeast.

The polio virus, which is characterized by a protein coat around RNA genetic material, is highly contagious. When infecting a child, it causes infantile paralysis, a condition known as poliomyelitis. The New York State Health Department confirmed the case on Thursday, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The unvaccinated adult who tested positive for Polio had significant symptoms and had to be hospitalized.


A new study finds evidence of poliovirus transmission in a sewer system in a suburban New York City suburb. Tests showed the virus was present in the wastewater system as far back as June when an unvaccinated adult in Rockland County fell ill. The county reported the case on July 21. It is not yet clear if the virus is spreading in the area, or if it is simply shedding.

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) launched a surveillance program to investigate the possibility of poliovirus contamination in the region. The samples of wastewater were shared with the Global Polio Laboratory Network, which includes the World Health Organization and the CDC. Tests confirmed that two isolates of the virus from Rockland County were Sabin-like type 2 (SL2), which is closely related to the strains found in Israel and London.

In Rockland County, an unnamed adult found a case of paralytic polio. Although no other cases were confirmed, the discovery of the virus in the suburb is significant because it suggests that more people are carrying the disease than ever before. Although polio is almost eliminated in the United States, the virus can continue to spread thanks to improper sanitation. It’s believed that the unvaccinated individual acquired the disease from a person who had received a live polio vaccine, or a person who used an unsafe method to handle the disease.

Is Prevention Possible?

Rockland County, New York, was recently contaminated with polio. While no other cases were reported, the presence of the virus in the wastewater suggests that more people are shedding the disease. The CDC warns residents to get vaccinated. Despite the risk of contracting polio, experts urge vaccination as a preventive measure. Although the virus is present in the wastewater, it is not clear if the virus is spreading.

Fortunately, New York City officials have a system to monitor the wastewater and identify whether it contains polio. Testing wastewater has long been standard practice in developing countries. Israel has been testing its sewage for polio since 1989. An outbreak of wild polio there was discovered in 2013 and a massive vaccine campaign was launched. Fortunately, no one in Israel has been paralyzed by the disease, and further investigations found further infections in the area around Jerusalem. However, some public health officials in the U.S. have questioned the efficacy of wastewater testing.

The CDC recommends all children receive the polio vaccine, and New York state requires that every child get the vaccine before they attend school. The disease is highly contagious and can infect anyone. It is important to remember that symptoms of the disease can take up to 30 days to manifest, so people who have been exposed to the virus may still be carrying the disease. So, the CDC’s recommendations are essential for the health of our community.

Genetic Sequencing

A study conducted in a New York City suburb has detected traces of the poliovirus, but the traces are not strong enough to cause paralysis. A recent outbreak of the disease in Rockland County, near New York City, also confirmed the presence of the polio virus. However, while the outbreak has not been considered a major public health issue, it does raise the question of potential community spread.

Researchers have made great strides to make genetic sequencing of the virus easier to perform. But the problem is that the virus particles in wastewater samples are usually degraded and there are hundreds or even thousands of them. This makes it difficult to determine which particles fit together. Moreover, the DNA sequences often miss the most interesting parts of the genome and regions that change the most frequently. So, these studies are still in their early stages. 


The polio virus is highly contagious. It attacks the nervous system and weakens the muscles. The virus enters the body through the mouth, or via hands that touch contaminated poop. The vaccine is an inactivated form of the virus and can protect 99% of people who receive all of its doses. The infection is no longer contagious in New York, thanks to the use of an inactivated polio vaccine.


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