Wastewater Surveillance

Why is NYSDOH conducting wastewater surveillance?

Following the identification of polio among a Rockland County resident, NYSDOH launched wastewater surveillance to check for signs of the virus, one of many detection tools that can help assess the spread of polio in communities. This process includes collecting retrospectively stored samples from Rockland County and, to be as extensive as possible, available samples from throughout the State.

What are the results of the wastewater findings so far?

Wastewater surveillance is an active, ongoing effort that NYSDOH is leading in partnership with local, national, and global public health authorities.

As of August 12, 2022, analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the presence of poliovirus in a total of 20 positive samples that are genetically linked to the individual case of paralytic polio among a Rockland County resident. Of the 20 samples, 2 samples were collected in May in Rockland County, 3 samples in June from Rockland County, 8 samples were collected in July from Rockland County, 2 samples were collected in June from Orange County, and 5 samples were collected in July from Orange County.

6 positive samples of concern, 2 collected in June and 4 collected in July, have also been identified in New York City. While at this time, these samples have not been genetically linked to the individual case in Rockland County, sequencing analysis characterizes these samples as either a vaccine-derived poliovirus or variants of the revertant polio Sabin type 2 poliovirus. Both of these types of poliovirus can cause illness, including paralysis, in humans.

These environmental findings provide further evidence of local—not international—transmission of a poliovirus that can cause paralysis and potential community spread, underscoring the urgency of every New York adult and child getting immunized, especially those in the greater New York metropolitan area.

New Yorkers should know that the latest environmental findings do not indicate that the individual identified in Rockland County was the source of the transmission, and case investigation into the origin of the virus is ongoing. NYSDOH will continue its wastewater surveillance efforts in partnership with CDC, aggressively assess the spread of the virus, and communicate openly with New Yorkers.

New Yorkers can learn more about New York State's wastewater surveillance programing here. More information about the work of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) and the Global Polio Laboratory Network (GPLN)—which includes the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC—is available here.