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State of Emergency Declared by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul Due to Poliovirus Being Found in Wastewater

The poliovirus was found in the wastewater of Nassau, Sullivan, Orange, and Rockland counties as well as New York City. This caused New York State Governor Kathy Hochul to declare a state of emergency on September 9, 2022. An individual case of paralytic polio infection triggered wastewater surveillance to check for signs of the virus in the community. Before this infection, the last detected case in New York State was in 1990. The declaration will allow more medical professionals including pharmacists and midwives to access and administer polio vaccines. 

Polio is highly contagious, spreading for up to six weeks in individuals who may not present any symptoms. The disease caused by the poliovirus mainly affects children under five. One in 200 infections will result in permanent paralysis of which, 5% to 10% will be fatal. There is no cure for Polio. However, the disease was nearly eradicated through high vaccination. 

“It is important that we maintain the safety of our children and community. Just one child infected leaves all our children susceptible. This is about ensuring our children’s safety while in school and in the community. Get in touch with your healthcare provider because we have a safe and effective vaccine that can be administered right away,stated Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages. 

Individuals are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider with any questions about their vaccination status and to seek immunization. With no available treatment, the polio vaccine requires several doses for lifelong protection. The New York State department of health recommends all unvaccinated individuals, and those with unknown vaccination status, get immunized right away. 

“On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice,” New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “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. Polio immunization is safe and effective – protecting nearly all people against disease who receive the recommended doses. Do not wait to be vaccinated.”

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