Polio Virus Found in North Shore Wastewater


By Rupert Deedes

Polio virus has been detected in several communities on the north shore – including Manhasset and Port Washington.

In July, the first case of polio in the United States in nearly a decade was reported in July in Rockland County, north of NYC, leading health officials to examine sewage water in the county for the presence of the virus.

Last week the virus was detected in wastewater samples collected in Nassau County.

Using wastewater detection, state health officials have identified the virus in at least 57 samples in multiple New York counties.

“There is no crisis right now,” stated Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. “There is no reported, active case of polio in Nassau County, but we need to be vigilant. We are being very cautious and monitoring the situation."

Health officials said that the Nassau County sample, and the samples from other counties, are genetically linked to the July polio case from Rockland, offering more evidence of expanding community spread among unvaccinated people.

The polio virus had previously been detected in wastewater in New York City and three counties to its north: Rockland, Orange, and Sullivan.

“For every one case of paralytic polio identified, hundreds more may be undetected, State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “The detection of poliovirus in wastewater samples in New York City is alarming, but not surprising.”

The virus causes polio, a disease that attacks the nervous system. Polio often leads to paralysis in the arms and legs, and may result in death.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt contracted polio – at age 39 in 1921 – having already run for Vice President of the United States and served as US Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The disease crippled him – leaving him unable to control his legs or to ever walk again.