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Polio found in sewage in NYC; health officials urge vaccination

The discovery of the polio virus in New York City came just weeks after cases were previously identified in Orange and Rockland counties in New York. File Photo by Marshall Wolfe/EPA
The discovery of the polio virus in New York City came just weeks after cases were previously identified in Orange and Rockland counties in New York. File Photo by Marshall Wolfe/EPA

Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Health officials said on Friday that the polio virus has been found in sewage in New York City, which poses a risk of community transmission.

The New York Health Department announced the finding, which is the first in New York City following recent discoveries elsewhere in the state. The virus had previously been found in two other New York counties.

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Polio can lead to paralysis and death, and the health department urged New Yorkers to make sure they are vaccinated.

"For every one case of paralytic polio identified, hundreds more may be undetected," State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement. "The detection of polio virus in wastewater samples in New York City is alarming, but not surprising.

"Already, the State Health Department -- working with local and federal partners -- is responding urgently, continuing case investigation and aggressively assessing spread."

New York City's health commissioner is urging residents to make sure they are vaccinated against polio.

"The risk to New Yorkers is real but the defense is so simple -- get vaccinated against polio," New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan said in a statement.

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"Polio is entirely preventable and its reappearance should be a call to action for all of us."

Other polio cases had already been identified in Orange and Rockland counties.

The department said on Friday that fewer than 70% of children are vaccinated against polio in some neighborhoods of New York City.

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