The New York Department of Health says hundreds of people may be infected with the polio virus

New York state health officials have found signs of additional cases of the polio virus in sewage samples from two separate counties, warning that hundreds of people could be infected with the serious virus.

Two weeks ago, the New York Department of Health informed the country about this the first case of poliomyelitis for nearly a decade, in upstate New York’s Rockland County. Officials said the incident involved a previously healthy young adult who had not been vaccinated and had paralyzed legs. Since then, three positive sewage samples from Rockland County and four from neighboring Orange County have been found and genetically linked to the first case, the health department said in a press release Thursday, suggesting the polio virus is spreading in local communities. The most recent samples were taken from two locations in Orange County in June and July and from one location in Rockland County in July.

“Due to previous polio epidemics, New Yorkers should be aware that for every case of paralysis observed, hundreds of others may have been infected,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “Combined with the latest sewage findings, the department is treating a single case of polio as the tip of the iceberg. As we learn more, we know that the polio risk exists in New York. York today.”

The health department reiterated that it is still investigating the origin of the virus and said it is not yet known if the person infected in Rockland County is connected to other cases.

Polio is a “serious and life-threatening disease,” the state health department said. It is highly contagious and can be transmitted by people who do not yet have symptoms. Symptoms usually appear within 30 days of infection and may be mild or flu-like. Some people may become infected becomes paralyzed or dies.

Before the polio vaccine was introduced in the 1950s, thousands of Americans died from polio and tens of thousands of people, many of them children, became paralyzed. After a successful vaccination campaign, polio was officially declared eradicated in the United States in 1979.

Unvaccinated New Yorkers should get vaccinated immediately, according to the Department of Health. Unvaccinated people who live, work or spend time in Rockland County, Orange County and the greater New York area are at greatest risk.

Most school-age children have received the polio vaccine, which is a four-dose vaccine starting at 6 weeks to 2 months, followed by one at 4 months, 6 to 12 months, and once at birth. 4 and 6. According to the Department of Health, about 60% of children in Rockland County have received three polio shots by their second birthday, and about 59% in Orange County – lower than the statewide rate of 79%.

According to the CDC’s most recent childhood immunization data, approximately 93% of 2-year-old children in the United States have received at least three doses of the polio vaccine.

According to the Department of Health, unvaccinated adults receive three doses of the vaccine, while those who have been vaccinated but are at high risk can receive a lifetime booster.

The vaccine is 99 percent effective in children who receive the full four-dose regimen, health officials say.

“Polio, which is often eliminated through vaccination, is rampant in our community, especially given the low vaccination rates for this debilitating disease in some areas of our county,” Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman said. “I urge all unvaccinated Orange County residents to get vaccinated as soon as medically possible.”

Rockland County Health Department Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert made a similar statement, urging unvaccinated people to get vaccinated “immediately.”

Polio has been rare in the United States since it was declared eradicated 40 years ago. The last reported case was brought in by a traveler in 2013The Associated Press reports.

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