The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday announced a plan to expand wastewater testing for poliovirus, focusing on communities that have low polio vaccination coverage, or have links to New York communities that are tied to a case of paralytic polio detected in a Rockland County man.
The first locations for the expanded surveillance involve the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The CDC said the wastewater findings will help jurisdictions decide where to focus vaccination efforts.
Once wastewater testing starts in the new locations, surveillance will last for 4 months. The CDC emphasized that wastewater testing for polio is different than other pathogens, and it comes with strict lab safety requirements. However, its strategic use in a limited number of at-risk communities can assess if poliovirus is present in other parts of the United States.
The findings are also useful for the rapid investigation of suspected cases, as was done in New York, which identified the virus in sewage in four counties, as well as New York City, suggesting community spread.
The New York man's infection involved vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2, and was the nation's first case since 2013. Genetic analysis of the virus pointed to links from samples collected from Jerusalem and London.