London also reporting virus in its sewage.
In July, we reported on the first recorded case of polio in this nation since 2013, and we also noted that the virus had been detected in wastewater samples taken in several locations and at different times in two counties north of New York City (potentially signaling community spread of the disease).
Public health officials have announced further testing shows polio is now spreading in NYC itself.
Health officials identified the virus that causes polio in New York City’s wastewater, suggesting local transmission of the virus, state authorities said on Friday, urging unvaccinated New Yorkers to get vaccinated.
“The NYC Heath Department and the New York State Department of Health have identified poliovirus in sewage in NYC, suggesting local transmission of the virus,” the city’s health department said in a statement on Friday.
“Polio can lead to paralysis and even death. We urge unvaccinated New Yorkers to get vaccinated now.”
…There is no cure for polio, which can cause irreversible paralysis in some cases, but it can be prevented by a vaccine made available in 1955.
One of the issues of concern is declining vaccination rates for children.
Routine vaccinations among children have declined in New York City since 2019, which has increased the risk of outbreaks, according to health officials. About 14% of New York City children ages 6 months to 5 years old have not completed their vaccination series against polio, which means they are not fully protected against the virus.
Overall, 86% of children ages 5 and under in New York City have received three doses of the polio vaccine, according to health officials. But there are some neighborhoods in the city where less than 70% of children are up to date on their polio vaccines, which puts kids in these communities at risk of catching polio.
…“The risk to New Yorkers is real but the defense is so simple – get vaccinated against polio,” said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan.
Children should receive four doses of the vaccine: One dose at 6 weeks through 2 months, a second dose at 4 months, a third at 6 months through 18 months, and a fourth at ages 4 to 6 years old, according to New York state health officials.
People who are unvaccinated and older than age 4 should receive three doses of the vaccine. Adults who have received only one or two should get another one or two, no matter how long it has been since the earlier doses.
Meanwhile, the polio virus has been detected in London’s sewage, and British health officials have also initiated their own vaccination campaign directed at children.
Children ages 1-9 in London were made eligible for booster doses of a polio vaccine Wednesday after British health authorities reported finding evidence the virus has spread in multiple areas of the city but found no cases of the paralytic disease in people.
Britain’s Health Security Agency said it detected viruses derived from the oral polio vaccine in the sewage water of eight London boroughs. The agency’s analysis of the virus samples suggested “transmission has gone beyond a close network of a few individuals.”
The agency said it had not located anyone infected with the virus and that the risk to the wider population was low. The decision to offer young children boosters was a precaution, it said.
…The agency said it is also expanding surveillance of sewage water to at least another 25 sites in London and nationally.
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