Wastewater analyzes were carried out in this American state after the confirmation of a case of poliomyelitis. They revealed traces of the virus that causes this disease, which would mean that it circulates in the population.
New York state health officials reported a case of polio in Rockland County on July 21. The man has paralysis, one of the possible, but rare, consequences of this disease. Since then, analyzes have been carried out in the wastewater of the State where “the virus was detected in wastewater samples from June and July”, in Rockland counties, but also in Orange, it is explained in a press release.
“New Yorkers should know that for every case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds more infected.” said State Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassettwhich explains that this identified case would only be the tip of the iceberg.
“What we know is clear: the danger of polio is present in New York today,” he says.
Tests were carried out on the wastewater to estimate the presence of poliovirus, and as of August 5, the CDC (American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), had confirmed the presence of 11 positive samples dating from June and July , linked to those identified. infected individual: six in Rockland County, five in Orange County.
These results show that the virus circulates in the population but apart from the case of paralysis mentioned above, no other infected individual has been identified so far.
“Hundreds, if not thousands of” potential cases
Polio is caused by a virus called poliovirus, and “most people who are infected with it (about 72%) have no visible symptoms,” writes the CDC. More serious symptoms appear in rarer cases, less than 1%, such as paralysis, but also paresthesias (sensation of pins and needles, pins and needles, etc.) or meningitis.
In that sense, “there is not a single case of polio if you see a case of paralysis,” said Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, Rockland County health commissioner at the BBC. “Most cases are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, and these symptoms are often overlooked,” he explains, “so there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cases that have occurred for us to see a case of paralysis.” .
Paralysis is the most serious manifestation of this disease and causes the death of 2 to 10% of people affected by this symptom, “because the virus affects the muscles that allow breathing,” explains the CDC.
The transmission of this disease “is exclusively from person to person and occurs mainly by the fecal-oral route, in particular through contaminated water, aerosols or food contaminated by feces,” explains the Institut Pasteur.
How was the paralyzed patient infected?
It is possible to transmit the virus without having symptoms and “infected people can transmit the infection as long as the virus persists in the throat (one week) and in the feces (3 to 6 weeks or even more),” stresses the ‘Pastor Institute.
The identified patient was infected with a type 2 Sabin polio virus, New York health authorities explain. The results indicate that the man was infected by an individual who received the oral polio vaccine (OPV) “which is no longer licensed or administered in the United States,” where only the injectable polio vaccine (IPV) is used. In fact, the identified strain cannot come from an inactivated vaccine, like the one used across the Atlantic, says the New York State Department of Health.
The patient having traveled to Europe before feeling the first symptoms, as ABC writes, it is there that he could have contracted polio.
With OPV -which contains live attenuated poliovirus- there is a rare “possibility of inducing the disease in some vaccinated people and the introduction into the environment of live strains of poliovirus, certainly attenuated but which can establish chains of transmission in contexts where coverage of vaccination is low”. after their excretion by vaccinated people,” writes the Institut Pasteur.
“All unvaccinated children and adults should receive a first vaccination immediately”
However, if polio vaccination approaches 80% in New York State, it only reaches 58.68% in Orange County and 60.34% in Rockland. For this reason, the authorities call on the unvaccinated population to receive doses to protect themselves from possible contamination.
“It is concerning that polio, a disease that has been largely eradicated through vaccination, is now circulating in our community, especially given the low vaccination rates against this disease” in some territories, says the county health commissioner Orange, Irina Gelman. “I urge all unvaccinated Orange County residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” she adds.
“All unvaccinated children and adults should immediately receive a first polio vaccination,” adds Patricia Schnabel Ruppert.
According to the latest data from the CDC, 92.6% of the US population is vaccinated against polio, so it must be protected against transmission, which limits fears of a major epidemic and does not worry experts in the United States. public health according to Los Angeles Times, however they require vaccination.
“Two doses of polio vaccines are 90% effective against polio, while three doses are more than 99% effective in preventing the disease,” writes the ECDC (European Center for Disease Prevention).
In France, this vaccine is one of the 11 mandatory vaccines, and “the last case of autochthonous polio dates back to 1989” while “the last imported case in 1995, both in adults”, assures the High Health Authority, but surveillance remain constant on this topic. In late June, traces of a form of polio were found in London sewage.
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