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Polio virus found in wastewater sample in NYC, health officials urge residents to get vaccinated

A highly infectious, life-threatening disease that was eradicated from the U.S. in 1979 was recently discovered in wastewater samples in New York. Health officials said there was a confirmed case of the poliovirus in a Rockland County, just north of New York City, The Guardian reports.

The New York State Department of Health collected a sample of the infected wastewater in June, meaning that "the virus was present in the community before the Rockland County adult's diagnosis was made public on 21 July," The Guardian added. The department said that "when samples such as these are identified, it raises concerns about the potential of community spread," Reuters notes.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in an email that it was not yet clear if the virus was actively spreading across New York or in other states, and "no new cases have been identified." However, officials are still urging residents to get vaccinated, "given how quickly polio can spread," said New York state health commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

Polio is known for causing irreversible paralysis and anyone can get it regardless of age, but the majority of individuals affected are children ages 3 and younger.

The CDC said that laboratory tests confirmed the strain was genetically linked to one found in Israel and samples of the virus in the United Kingdom.

New York health officials are working to open vaccine clinics for residents to get their Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) —  the only vaccine for the virus that has been administered in the U.S. since 2000.