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 in opposition to polio to get vaccinated “immediately,” 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 mentioned polio had been detected in wastewater samples taken in a number of places and at totally different instances in two counties north of New York Metropolis, probably signaling neighborhood 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 tons of of different folks contaminated,” Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the state’s well being commissioner, mentioned in a press release.

“Coupled with the newest 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 brought on by the poliovirus and youngsters below 5 are most vulnerable to contracting it, however anybody who’s unvaccinated is in danger. Polio is extremely contagious, sometimes 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 could cause flulike signs, however the illness, also called poliomyelitis, may be disabling and even life-threatening. There isn’t any treatment.

Paralysis is a uncommon end result, however earlier than vaccines have been extensively out there within the Nineteen Fifties, polio outbreaks prompted greater than 15,000 instances of paralysis a yr.

Final month, a case of polio — the primary to be reported in america in almost 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 mentioned 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 could have originated outdoors america, the place the oral vaccine remains to be administered, officers mentioned. The oral vaccine incorporates weakened virus. It’s protected, but when vaccine-derived virus circulates in a neighborhood, it may well infect unvaccinated folks and unfold the illness.

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

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

“The findings,” the state Well being Division mentioned 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 mentioned. The investigation into the virus’s origin is continuous.

As a result of widespread vaccination has proved to be an efficient prevention technique, areas with low immunization charges may be at specific 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 line with state information — a significantly decrease fee than the 80 % in the remainder of the state excluding New York Metropolis. (To realize herd immunity for polio, the goal vaccination fee is 80 %, in line with the World Well being Group.)

Most adults in america needn’t get vaccinated in opposition to polio as a result of they most probably have been immunized as kids, though some could also be eligible for booster pictures if they’ve an elevated threat of publicity.

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