Highlights

  • Governor Kathy Hochul declared disaster emergency in New York
  • Declaration after poliovirus detected in wastewater of yet another county in NYC area
  • First case of polio detected in US in nearly a decade was identified in July, 2022

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Disaster emergency declared in New York after poliovirus detected in wastewater

The latest sample is genetically linked to the polio case from Rockland and provides further evidence of expanding community spread. 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Friday declared a disaster emergency as part of its efforts to vaccinate residents against polio after the virus was detected in the wastewater samples of yet another county in the New York City area.

Hochul's executive order came after the discovery of the virus last month in samples from Long Island's Nassau County, directly east of the city.

Health officials began checking for signs of the virus in sewage water after the first case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade was identified in July in Rockland County, which is north of the city.

The latest sample is genetically linked to the polio case from Rockland and provides further evidence of expanding community spread, state health officials said.

The poliovirus had previously been detected in wastewater in two other counties to the north of NYC: Orange and Sullivan.

The declaration of a disaster emergency will allow Emergency Medical Technicians (EMS) workers, midwives and pharmacists to administer polio vaccines and allow doctors to issue standing orders for the vaccine. Data on immunisations will be used to focus vaccination efforts where they're needed the most.

Also watch: China: fresh Covid-19 scare in Beijing, infinite lockdown in Chengdu city

“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a prepared statement.

“If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up to date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real. I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all.” The statewide polio vaccination rate is 79 per cent, but the counties of Rockland, Orange and Sullivan had lower rates.

Officials have said that it is possible that hundreds of people in the state have gotten polio and don't know it. Most people infected with polio have no symptoms but can still give the virus to others for days or weeks.

The lone confirmed case in New York involved an unidentified young adult who was unvaccinated.

With AP inputs

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