Health Chief Warns Polio Case Could Be ‘Tip of the Iceberg’

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New York State well being officers on Thursday intensified their push for individuals who haven’t been immunized towards polio to get vaccinated “instantly,” saying the one confirmed case of the illness discovered within the state could also be “the tip of the iceberg” of a a lot wider risk.

The pressing name got here as officers stated polio had been detected in wastewater samples taken in a number of areas and at totally different occasions in two counties north of New York Metropolis, doubtlessly signaling group unfold of the illness.

“Based mostly on earlier polio outbreaks, New Yorkers ought to know that for each one case of paralytic polio noticed, there could also be a whole bunch of different individuals contaminated,” Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the state’s well being commissioner, stated in a press release.

“Coupled with the most recent wastewater findings,” Dr. Bassett added, “the division is treating the only case of polio as simply the tip of the iceberg of a lot better potential unfold.”

Polio is attributable to the poliovirus and youngsters underneath 5 are most vulnerable to contracting it, however anybody who’s unvaccinated is in danger. Polio is extremely contagious, usually spreading from individual to individual when somebody comes into contact with the feces of an contaminated particular person after which touches their mouth.

Many instances are asymptomatic, and a few may cause flulike signs, however the illness, also called poliomyelitis, could be disabling and even life-threatening. There is no such thing as a treatment.

Paralysis is a uncommon end result, however earlier than vaccines had been broadly obtainable within the Nineteen Fifties, polio outbreaks precipitated greater than 15,000 instances of paralysis a 12 months.

Final month, a case of polio — the primary to be reported in america in practically a decade — was recognized in an unvaccinated grownup man in Rockland County. No instances had originated in america since 1979.

State and county well being officers stated the an infection in Rockland County had been transmitted from somebody who acquired the oral polio vaccine, which has not been administered in america since 2000.

The virus circulating in New York might have originated exterior america, the place the oral vaccine remains to be administered, officers stated. The oral vaccine comprises weakened virus. It’s protected, but when vaccine-derived virus circulates in a group, it could possibly infect unvaccinated individuals and unfold the illness.

In asserting the case, officers emphasised that the contaminated particular person was not contagious and stated that their efforts would concentrate on growing charges of vaccination and on figuring out whether or not anybody else may need been affected.

Officers have stated that polio had been present in Rockland County wastewater samples taken in June, earlier than the polio case was confirmed. On Thursday, they stated proof of the sickness had additionally been present in wastewater samples taken in June and July from two “geographically totally different” elements of Orange County, which is adjoining to Rockland.

“The findings,” the state Well being Division stated in a information launch, “present additional proof of native — not worldwide — transmission of a polio virus.”

There was no indication that the contaminated man in Rockland County was the supply of the polio discovered within the wastewater samples, officers stated. The investigation into the virus’s origin is constant.

As a result of widespread vaccination has proved to be an efficient prevention technique, areas with low immunization charges could be at explicit threat of an outbreak.

In each Rockland and Orange Counties, about 60 % of 2-year-olds have acquired all three doses of the polio vaccine, in keeping with state knowledge — a significantly decrease price than the 80 % in the remainder of the state excluding New York Metropolis. (To realize herd immunity for polio, the goal vaccination price is 80 %, in keeping with the World Well being Group.)

Most adults in america needn’t get vaccinated towards polio as a result of they almost certainly had been immunized as youngsters, though some could also be eligible for booster pictures if they’ve an elevated threat of publicity.

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