Health officials in the state of New York are urging families to get their children as well as themselves vaccinated against polio if they haven’t already, due to a possible community spread.
The easiest way to test for polio and keep tabs on it is by testing the sewage systems in cities.
Now, New York City has found the polio virus in seven different samples of wastewater in two adjacent counties, according to Syracuse News.
Only one individual has tested positive for the virus in Rockland county so far.
This person was not vaccinated against polio and suffered from paralysis.
The state health commissioner wants people to know that for each person who tests positive, there could be hundreds of other infections out there.
While there is only one person currently being treated, the virus is very much alive and present in New York City right now.
It’s been almost ten years since someone in the U.S. has contracted the polio virus.
Most people who catch it show no symptoms.
This doesn’t mean they can’t still spread the virus for days or weeks.
A small amount of people will suffer paralysis, and among that group 5-10% of them will die.
While vaccines are a requirement for children to attend school, Rockland and Orange counties are resistant against enforcing them.
Orange and Rockland counties are where the wastewater samples that tested positive came from.
Key takeaways from the polio case in New York City
First, the virus was very contagious when it was present before the 1950s, and many Americans feared it.
Finally in the 50s, a vaccine was developed, according to the New York Times.
The first case to show up in almost a decade happened in July.
Billions of dollars are being poured into an effort with national governments to eradicate the world of polio by 2026.
The virus is currently endemic in just two countries.
Two of three strains of the virus are gone, but fully eradicating the planet from the last strain has run into barriers.
The biggest barrier is the steep decline of children getting vaccines, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While paralysis is rare, when the virus was around a lot before vaccines, there were around 15,000 cases of paralysis per year related to polio.
How is the earth going to eradicate itself from the virus?
The good news is, if you’re vaccinated against polio, the chances of contracting it if it spreads are very low.
Unfortunately, many children aren’t fully vaccinated so the fear is the virus spreading to them.
Over 35,000 people found themselves disabled due to the virus before vaccines, according to Stat News.
The last case that originated in the United States was in 1979.
The virus is not curable, but preventable.
The virus doesn’t last long outside of the body, and if it can’t find a body to infect it will die, which is the biggest way to rid the planet of the virus.
In 1988 the world created the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
This is the largest effort of its kind and works with every healthcare level to rid the planet of the virus.
In order to successfully rid the earth of polio, every level of the program needs to put in effort.
This means individuals, communities, local and national governments, and donors.
The U.S. is one of the biggest participants in the program, and supports the efforts as much as they can.