'Tip of the iceberg.' NY state health commissioner sounds alarm on potential polio spread in the Hudson Valley

State Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett is expressing concern about the spread of polio in the Hudson Valley following the confirmed case in Rockland and the latest wastewater findings.

News 12 Staff

Aug 5, 2022, 5:01 PM

Updated 624 days ago

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State Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett is expressing concern about the spread of polio in the Hudson Valley following the confirmed case in Rockland and the latest wastewater findings.
"Based on earlier polio outbreaks, New Yorkers should know that for every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of other people infected," State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in a release. "Coupled with the latest wastewater findings, the Department is treating the single case of polio as just the tip of the iceberg of much greater potential spread. As we learn more, what we do know is clear: the danger of polio is present in New York today. We must meet this moment by ensuring that adults, including pregnant people, and young children by 2 months of age are up to date with their immunization – the safe protection against this debilitating virus that every New Yorker needs."
Rockland health officials say polio was found in wastewater samples from June.  The virus was detected in sewer district one, which serves large portions of Clarkstown, Ramapo and parts of Orangetown. There was no polio recorded from the Orangetown sewer district.
"This unprecedented circulation of polio in our community from a devastating disease that was eradicated from the United States in 1979 must be stopped," Rockland County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert said in a release. "Any unvaccinated children and adults should receive a first polio immunization immediately. The Rockland County Department of Health is here to help residents receive vaccinations. Visit our webpage for more information."
The Orange County Department of Health also says the polio virus has been identified in the county's wastewater. The positive specimens were identified in processing facilities serving Middletown and Harriman.
"It is concerning that polio, a disease that has been largely eradicated through vaccination, is now circulating in our community, especially given the low rates of vaccination for this debilitating disease in certain areas of our County," Orange County Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman said in a release. "I urge all unvaccinated Orange County residents to get vaccinated as soon as medically feasible."


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