NEW YORK - According to a new report from the CDC, the poliovirus has been circulating in our area for quite some time.
Officials now believe that this version of the poliovirus was present in Orange County as early as April, and they think it's been circulating widely globally for a year.
The CDC's research in the New York area really began in earnest last month after officials in Rockland County confirmed that a young adult had become paralyzed with polio.
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In the time since, scientists have been harnessing the data that’s been collected in wastewater. Using wastewater to monitor for public health concerns is not all that new, but it really picked up during the pandemic, when experts monitored wastewater for COVID-19.
Just last week, New York City announced that it had found polio in its wastewater.
"It’s the idea that when people are infected, they're passing these viruses through their waste," said Prof. Chris Gobler, who runs the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University.
Wastewater can be a really good gauge-- especially early on-- when people aren’t necessarily reporting Polio, since you can have it without showing any symptoms.
"Sewage treatment plants end up being a great sort of surveillance system for surveying an entire population," Gobler said.
The CDC says it is only the second confirmed community transmission of polio since 1979.