New York declared a state disaster emergency on Friday to increase the availability of resources to protect against poliovirus following the detection of the virus in wastewater samples.
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul issued an executive order (EO) declaring a state disaster emergency after the virus was detected in wastewater samples from Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County, New York City, and, recently, Nassau County.
New York State began wastewater surveillance after a Rockland County resident who did not travel outside the US was diagnosed with polio in July. The patient developed significant symptoms, including paralysis, and had to be hospitalized.
The EO expands the network of polio vaccine administrators to include EMS workers, midwives, and pharmacists to boost vaccination efforts. It also authorizes physicians and certified nurse practitioners to issue non-patient-specific standing orders for polio vaccines.
Who should get vaccinated?
Health officials urge all New Yorkers who are unvaccinated, including children by two months of age, those who are pregnant, and people who have not completed their polio vaccine series previously, to get immunized immediately.
All children should get four doses of the polio vaccine at ages two months, four months, 6–18 months, and 4–6 years. Those who start the polio immunization series after four years of age and who are unvaccinated or unsure if they have been immunized should receive a total of 3 doses.
The New York State Department of Health recommends one lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine for individuals who might have close contact with someone infected with poliovirus.
Healthcare providers working in areas where poliovirus has been detected and who might handle specimens that might contain polioviruses or who treat patients who might have polio are also advised to get a vaccine.
Only the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), which contains no live virus, is available in the US. It protects 99 – 100 percent of people who get all recommended doses.
Developing severe symptoms
According to the CDC, most people infected with poliovirus will not have any visible symptoms. About 1 out of 4 people will develop flu-like symptoms, including sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, and stomach pain. These symptoms usually last for 2 to 5 days.
However, some poliovirus patients will develop severe symptoms. About 1–5 out of 100 people will get meningitis — an infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain.
Paralysis or weakness in the arms, legs, or both occurs in about 1 out of 200 people to 1 in 2000 people, depending on virus type. Between 2 and 10 out of 100 people who have paralysis from poliovirus infection die.
New York State. No. 21: Declaring a Disaster in the State of New York.
New York State Department of Health. Protecting New Yorkers Through Immunization: State Department of Health Updates New Yorkers On Polio In New York State.
CDC. What is Polio?