Sep 9, 2022 - Health

New York governor declares emergency over polio

Kathy Hochul, governor of New York, during a New York State Financial Control Board meeting in New York, US, on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022
Gov. Kathy Hochul during a New York State Financial Control Board meeting on Sept. 6. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) on Friday declared a state disaster emergency over polio after an unvaccinated individual tested positive for the virus and officials have detected samples of polio in the city's wastewater.

Driving the news: Poliovirus has been detected in wastewater in New York counties, in addition to New York City, providing evidence of transmission of the contagious virus, which can lead to paralysis or meningitis.

  • In an attempt to boost vaccination rates, the emergency declaration expands the number of individuals who are certified to administer vaccines against polio to include EMS workers, midwives and pharmacists.
  • The order also requires healthcare workers to provide polio immunization data to the state's department of health, which will allow health officials "to focus vaccination activities where they are needed most."

What they're saying: "On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice," State Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement.

  • "If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up to date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real," she added. "I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all."

The big picture: The state began monitoring wastewater after an unvaccinated individual tested positive for the virus in Rockland County, per New York's Department of Health.

  • "All samples reported are samples of concern, meaning they are types of poliovirus that can cause paralysis in humans," the department noted.

Go deeper... New York City health officials identify polio in wastewater samples

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