COVID-19. Monkeypox. Now polio. Perhaps. At least in New York.
Newsmax reported on Thursday that as more evidence of the spread of the crippling disease turned up, New York state’s top public health official issued an urgent warning for the polio unvaxxed to get vaxxed.
An unvaccinated person tested positive last month in Rockland County, a New York City suburb where only 60 percent of the population has been immunized against polio. It was the first U.S. polio case since 2013.
But as Newsmax reported, the polio virus now has been discovered in seven different wastewater systems in Rockland and Orange counties. In Orange County the vax rate is just 59 percent.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, New York’s health commissioner, said in a statement, “New Yorkers should know that for every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of other people infected.”
“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,” Bassett added.
“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.”
Spearheaded by Dr. Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine, the eradication of the disease became one of the nation’s most aggressive public health campaigns.
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Salk’s vaccine was declared safe and effective in 1955. Yet it took until 1979 before the government announced that polio had been eliminated from the population..
Newsmax noted that polio has a fatality rate of between 5 percent and 10 percent.
“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 Irina Gelman said, according to Newsmax.
“I urge all unvaccinated Orange County residents to get vaccinated as soon as medically feasible.”