Rapid Polio Spread In New York: All You Need To Know

Rapid Polio Spread In New York: All You Need To Know

Poliovirus is found in the sewage of New York; know why this disease is spreading so rapidly.

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : August 16, 2022 10:03 PM IST

Polio is a disease that causes children to be crippled early. The polio virus detection in New York City's sewage indicates that the disease is secretly spreading among people who are not vaccinated. The New York State Health Department and city said the poliovirus detection in its wastewater noted that it was likely to spread locally. Provincial Health Commissioner Dr Mary T. Bassett said the poliovirus discovery in wastewater samples in New York City was terrifying but not startling.

Different Polio Strains

There are mainly two strains of the polio virus.

  • One highly lethal and contagious variant has now disappeared, while the other vaccine-derived polio has been reported to be rare. However, this second strain has been found in the wastewater of the UK capital London and the US city of New York.
  • In Israel's Jerusalem, a genetically similar virus has been found in London and New York. However, in places like London and New York, cases of vaccine-derived polio have not been reported in the past.
  • However, it is widespread in other countries. In 2021 alone, 415 cases infected with this variant have been reported in Nigeria. The live virus, which reached the body of children as a vaccine, comes out through their faeces after a few weeks. In countries where vaccination has been reduced, this virus can spread again and mutate to become harmful.

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The vaccine containing this live virus is no longer used in countries like Britain and America. Especially now that after covid-19, the restrictions related to travel are over again.

Why Is Polio Spreading Now?

Derek Ehrhardt, global polio lead at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, says experts agree that vaccine-derived and wild polio strains are still present among low-vaccination populations. According to the United Nations, 1081 vaccine-derived polio cases were reported in 2020, compared to three times fewer cases in the previous year, i.e. 2019. However, even in the year 2022, 177 cases have been reported so far.

This is a matter of even more concern, especially for developing countries like India, because our neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are still battling polio infection.