Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by a type of enterovirus. The virus spreads from person to person through droplets and can be found in a person’s stool. Polio can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body). Poliovirus is highly contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact; use droplet precautions around infected persons. 

In July 2022, news of paralytic polio appeared in Rockland County, New York in an unvaccinated individual. Within a month, health officials found polio in the NYC wastewater samples. There have not been any cases of Polio identified in the United States outside of New York State, and none detected in Pennsylvania or Lancaster County.

 People who have polio can spread it to others through their feces on hands or objects. It is important to wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers. It is also possible to spread the virus through saliva and respiratory droplets. In unsanitary conditions, poliovirus can contaminate food and water. 

Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and pain in the limbs. A smaller proportion of people with poliovirus infection will develop other, more serious symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord such as meningitis or paralysis. Polio is a vaccine preventable disease. People at the most risk of infection are: who never had vaccine or never completed recommended vaccine doses. 

For up-to-date information on Polio including case counts, signs/symptoms, spread, prevention, treatment, and more, go to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or seek other credible sources. For any questions regarding your health or the health of your family members, chosen primary care provider.

Last updated: 9/7/2022