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Polio detection in New York wastewater is declining

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist works with polio virus material. The first case of polio in nearly decade was detected in a New York patient Thursday. The individual was unvaccinated and likely contracted the virus from an individual outside of the country.
James Gathany
/
CDC
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist works with polio virus material. The first case of polio in nearly decade was detected in a New York patient. The individual was unvaccinated and likely contracted the virus from an individual outside of the country.

The polio virus is being found in fewer wastewater samples across New York, including in Nassau County where a positive sample was detected in August.

As of December 5, polio was detected in 94 wastewater samples collected in Nassau, Kings, Queens, Orange, Rockland and Sullivan counties between April and October. Half of the cases are genetically tied to the infection of an unvaccinated Rockland resident in July, the first case in New York since 1990.

An executive order declaring a statewide disaster emergency issued in response to "the ongoing spread of polio" in New York expired last week.

State health officials credit that to over 46,700 polio vaccine doses being administered to children 18 years and younger in Rockland, Orange, Sullivan and Nassau counties.

However, they warn vaccination rates in these affected areas remain too low, and require ongoing wastewater surveillance and immunizations.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.