The New York State Health Commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, said a case of polio found in Rockland County could be the “tip of the iceberg” and that hundreds more people could become infected with the virus.
“Based on past polio cases, New Yorkers should be aware that for every one case of paralytic polio that is seen, there may be hundreds of other people who are infected,” Bassett said. warned in a statement Thursday. “Combined with the latest sewage findings, the Department is treating the single case of polio as just the tip of the iceberg of a much larger potential spread. As we learn more, what we know is clear: the risk of polio is present in New York today.
“We must respond to this moment by ensuring that adults, including pregnant women, and young children as young as 2 months old are up to date on their vaccinations – the safe protection against this debilitating virus that every New Yorker needs,” added Bassett.
The public health official’s comments come after a case of polio was confirmed in Rockland County – the first case in the US since 2013.
NBC News notes: “Polio was detected in the county’s wastewater before the patient’s case was confirmed, officials said. On Thursday, officials revealed that the virus had also been detected in sewage samples in Orange County.
The 20-year-old patient was not vaccinated against the virus, officials said. The person traveled to Europe – Poland and Hungary – and was hospitalized in June, The Washington Post mentionted.
Polio infections usually occur through the mouth or saliva and can be spread without symptoms, which are usually flu-like.
“This unprecedented release of polio into our community from a devastating disease eradicated from the United States in 1979 must be stopped. Any unvaccinated children and adults should receive a first polio vaccination immediately. The Rockland County Health Department is here to help residents get vaccinated,” Rockland County Health Department Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert he said in a statement.