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Posted on: August 2, 2022

Polio virus detected in Orange County wastewater samples

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Goshen, N.Y. – The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has recently advised the Orange County Department of Health (OCDOH) that the polio virus has been identified in wastewater samples taken from June and July in two geographically different locations in Orange County. 

These wastewater samples were initially collected from municipal wastewater treatment plants across Orange County and have been tested for COVID-19. There have been no confirmed cases of polio infection identified to date in Orange County, but virus is circulating in the community according to wastewater analysis reports. Due to a confirmed case of polio in a resident in a contiguous county, state and local public health officials have advised medical practitioners to be vigilant about identifying potential cases, as well as increasing vaccination efforts. 

OCDOH advises all providers to contact patients who are due for the polio vaccine, as well as any other age-appropriate immunizations and make appointments to receive those vaccinations as soon as medically practicable.

Polio is very contagious, and a person can spread the virus even if they do not have any symptoms. Approximately 72 percent of polio cases are asymptomatic and about 25 percent will develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, nausea, headache, and stomach pain. A smaller percentage can progress to develop paresthesia, paralysis, or meningitis. Polio is a very serious disease. There is no cure for polio. Additionally, it can take up to 30 days for a person to have symptoms. 

The best way to prevent contracting polio is to be vaccinated.

“It is disheartening to see a resurgence of polio, a disease that was largely eradicated long ago. It is concerning that polio is circulating in our community, given the low rates of vaccination for this debilitating disease in certain areas of our County,“ stated Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman.

The polio vaccine was developed in the United States in the 1950s. According to the NYSDOH, those who are vaccinated are considered at lower risk for contracting polio. While most receive this vaccination series in childhood, any person who has not completed their polio vaccine series, or are concerned that they might have been exposed, should be vaccinated as soon as possible. If you, your child, or someone you know has not been vaccinated against polio, please contact a healthcare provider as soon as possible to get vaccinated.

The OCDOH offers vaccines, including the polio vaccine, to uninsured and underinsured Orange County residents at our Children’s Immunization clinics at no charge. OCDOH also offers vaccines for adults and individuals who are traveling and in need of specific vaccines for a fee. If you have questions or would like to make an appointment for your child, please call 845-291-2330.

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