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Polio Rears Its Head Again, NY Health Department Says We've Just Seen the 'Tip of the Iceberg'

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Concern is growing that polio is making a comeback in New York state.

The New York State Health Department said that an outbreak of polio in Rockland County — north of New York City — that involved one person in July could now be spreading.

Three wastewater samples from Rockland County and four in nearby Orange County, also within the New York City commuting region, have shown the presence of the polio virus, the department warned in a news release.

“Based on earlier polio outbreaks, New Yorkers should know that for every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of other people infected,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said.

“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,” she added.

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“As we learn more, what we do know is clear: the danger of polio is present in New York today.”

The positive samples “do not indicate that the individual identified in Rockland County was the source of the transmission,” the release said.

The department said the transmission of the virus was local, not international, but offered no other clues as to how it is spreading. There is no cure for the disease.

Officials said the June case in Rockland County occurred in an unvaccinated resident, according to The New York Times.

Bassett urged all New Yorkers to be vaccinated against polio.

According to CNBC, the strain of polio found in Rockland County is similar to a strain found in Britain and Israel.

“New Yorkers should know that this does not imply that the individual case identified in Rockland County, New York has travel history to Israel or the UK,” the state health department said.

“Polio is a serious and life-threatening disease, “the release said.

“Symptoms of polio, which can be mild and flu-like, can take up to 30 days to appear, during which time an infected individual can be shedding virus to others.

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“Some polio cases can result in paralysis or death. According to the WHO, of those paralyzed, 5-10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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