The state of New York declared a state of emergency to prevent the spread of poliomyelitis (polio), after a case was detected on July 21 in Rockland County, north of New York City, from an unvaccinated person who had not traveled abroad.

The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, issued an executive order this Friday that will be in force until next October 9 to “implement a State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and authorize all necessary state agencies to take appropriate measures to help local governments and people to contain, prepare for, respond to and recover from this emergency.”

Among other things, with the executive order, the authorities want to concentrate their efforts on reinforcing vaccination campaigns against the virus.

State services have detected the polio virus in wastewater samples in three other counties, in Orange and Sullivan, north of the city, and in Nassau, located east of the metropolis.

According to New York State, only 86.2% of children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years in the New York metropolitan area have received 3 doses of the vaccine.

Data that is more alarming in some of the affected counties, with a percentage of vaccination against polio in Rockland of 60.34% in children of that age and 58.68% in Orange.

This is the first time in decades that an outbreak of polio, a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis in a matter of hours, has been detected in the United States.

In 1988, the World Health Organization launched an international public health campaign with the aim of eradicating polio by the year 2000, but in 2020 cases were reported in 34 countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Although the numbers have decreased in the last 18 months, some cases have emerged in Ukraine and Israel; polio virus was detected in London sewage in June and in New York in July.

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