$21.6 Million Funds New York's Expanding Polio Investigations

Wastewater testing reaches 215 treatment plants
New York poliovirus wastewater testing
by U. Njglrk
New York City (Precision Vaccinations)

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) recently announced new investments to expand the State's wastewater surveillance program, furthering New York's (NY) preparedness to combat the spread of infectious diseases.

Announced on January 23, 2023, the new $21.6 million funding includes a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alongside NY Governor Hochul's investments.

Established in August 2021 to support the State's COVID-19 pandemic response, NYSDOH's Wastewater Surveillance Network reaches all 62 NY counties.

It has proven integral to the advanced tracking of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and, more recently, detecting poliovirus in certain areas in NY.

The new investment will increase the number of participating sewer sheds from 125 to over 215.

This will grow the Department's program to reach over 16 million New Yorkers, about 81% of the population served by public sewer systems.

"Since its inception, the Department's wastewater surveillance has been a key part of the State's most critical public health responses," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said in a press release on January 23, 2023. 

"Providing confidential, science-based, and community-level information, wastewater monitoring is advancing our tracking of trends for COVID-19 and has been invaluable in identifying polio in communities."

"These resources directly expand our wastewater monitoring network – and its reach – giving our team additional proactive capabilities to protect and promote the health of New Yorkers against more health threats."

Wastewater surveillance, a process by which sewage samples (containing feces flushed down the toilet) are collected from treatment plants and sent to laboratories for testing, can provide early detection for both symptomatic and asymptomatic virus cases in a community, serving as an essential indicator of disease burden within an area at any given time.

As of January 24, 2023, NYSDOH confirmed the presence of poliovirus in 100 positive samples of concern.

Poliovirus samples have been collected in Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County, Nassau County, Brooklyn (Kings County), and Queens County.

Previously, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on November 30, 2022, it was expanding wastewater testing in the U.S. Michigan and Philadelphia are among the locations exploring plans to collect poliovirus wastewater samples.

And Dr. José R. Romero, Director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, indicated poliovirus testing would continue into early 2023.

Globally, poliovirus type 2 isolates have been identified in sewage samples collected in Canada, London, and Israel in 2022. 

Article by
Donald Hackett