The Circulation of Polio in New York

By Hannah Lozada

Health officials around the world have used several oral vaccines as an effort to eliminate Polio. Despite many decades of trying to contain the virus, authorities have publicly announced the spread of Polio in New York. How did this even happen? Well, the virus originated from the oral vaccine itself. 

In April, in Orange County N.Y., the wastewater tested positive for Polio. In May, in Rockland County, the wastewater also tested positive for Polio. When scientists analyzed both sewage samples, they found out that the genome of the virus was altered, which meant that the virus had been circulating for about a year. 

In June, officials announced a Polio case from Rockland County N.Y., that left a young twenty year old man infected with Polio. The victim’s symptoms included paralysis, fever, neck stiffness, and abdominal pain. The infected person was unvaccinated for Polio, despite the recommendations for childhood vaccinations, as well as school requirements. The victim is the first person in nearly a decade to be infected with Polio in the United States.

Polio often spreads without causing serious symptoms, which makes it more contagious. Majority of people infected by Polio don’t have any symptoms. However, some people will have symptoms that are similar to the flu. This includes: tiredness, sore throat, fever, nausea, and stomach pain. It can cause permanent paralysis to any part of the body. This includes paralysis to the muscles that are used to swallow and breathe, which could result in death. 

Polio vaccines produce antibodies in the blood that prevent the virus from spreading to your nervous system. The vaccines can also prevent the virus from spreading from person-to-person. 

There isn’t a cure for Polio, but health officials are doing their best to contain the virus by urging the public to get vaccinated and taking extra safety precautions. New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan says, “The fact is, the urgency of safe and effective vaccines has always been here, and we need New Yorkers to protect themselves against completely preventable viruses like Polio.”

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