Authorities in biggest US city urge vaccination after finding virus traces in sewage system
© AFP / Angela Weiss
New York City and state health officials on Friday urged residents who haven’t been vaccinated against polio to do so, after the virus that causes the paralytic disease was detected in the largest US city’s sewage samples. The discovery comes just weeks after a confirmed case in a nearby county.
The finding suggests “likely local circulation of the virus.” Sewage samples from Rockland and Orange counties north of New York City also showed the presence of polio last month, followed by the discovery of the first domestic US polio infection since 1979.
State health commissioner Mary Bassett called the detection “alarming, but not surprising,” and added that the state department of health is “responding urgently, continuing case investigation and aggressively assessing spread,” in cooperation with local and federal partners.
NYC health commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan urged the residents to vaccinate. Health authorities say the vaccination rate among children under two in New York state is 79%.
“Polio is entirely preventable and its reappearance should be a call to action for all of us,” Vasan said. Vaccine clinics will be popping up to offer the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) to residents.