Polio is a highly infectious virus that can affect the nervous system and cause muscle weakness. In some cases, polio can result in paralysis or death.  There is no cure for polio, but it is preventable through safe and effective vaccination.

Why are health officials concerned?

On July 21, 2022, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and Rockland County Department of Health alerted the public to a case of paralytic polio in an unvaccinated Rockland County resident. (MMWR article: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7133e2.htm?s_cid=mm7133e2_w)  

In addition, poliovirus has been detected in the wastewater in areas surrounding Rockland County. This includes Sullivan County, Orange County, and New York City.  The detection of poliovirus in the wastewater is evidence that polio is circulating in these communities and may cause paralytic illness in other people. (https://www.health.ny.gov/press/releases/2022/2022-08-26_urging_immunization.htm

How does polio spread?

Polio virus enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with the stool of an infected person.  It also can spread through saliva from respiratory or oral-to-oral transmission.   A person can spread the virus even if they aren’t sick or experiencing symptoms.

What are the symptoms of polio?

There are a range of symptoms people infected with polio may experience.  Some will have no symptoms.  Others will have mild and flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, fever, headache, stiffness, muscle pain, and vomiting.  Others will have serious symptoms including paralysis, permanent disability, post-polio syndrome, and even death.

How can I protect myself against polio?

Maintaining high immunity across the population through vaccination is the best way to keep New York polio free.  Children who attend public school must be vaccinated against polio.  Many New Yorkers are already fully vaccinated.  To see if you are already vaccinated against polio, check in with your healthcare provider or Madison County Health Department.   

If you are unvaccinated and interested in being vaccinated, please reach out to your primary care provider or Madison County Health Department for an appointment.  

Polio vaccination rates by ZIP code for available New York counties, including Madison County: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/polio/zip_code_vaccination_rates.htm.

Other resources:

New York State Polio page https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/polio/

Healthcare Provider Resources:

August 19, 2022 Health Advisory (PDF) https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/polio/docs/health_advisory_8-19-22.pdf

Polio for Healthcare Providers CDC https://www.cdc.gov/polio/what-is-polio/hcp.html