Poliovirus Detected in New York Wastewater

Public health officials have announced that they’ve found poliovirus in wastewater from NYC sewers. The virus was also detected in nearby Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, and Nassau counties. This wastewater news may indicate the resurgence of a virus rarely seen in the United States.

What Is Poliovirus?

Poliomyelitis is caused by a virus that has been around for centuries. Images from ancient Egypt show people affected by the disease. In the worst cases, the virus causes muscle wasting and paralysis.

Dangers of Poliovirus

The virus that causes poliomyelitis is very contagious and can quickly spread through an unvaccinated population. While about 80% of New York residents have received the vaccine, the rate drops to 60% in Orange and Rockland counties.

Most people infected with the virus will have no symptoms, but they can spread it to others. About 25% of infected people will have cold and flu symptoms for a few days.

A small percentage of people will develop muscle weakness and paralysis. If the illness affects the throat or chest muscles, the patient may have trouble swallowing and breathing.

The disease can cause problems many years after recovery. Older people who had the illness as children may develop post-polio syndrome. This disease recurrence can result in a return of muscle weakness and loss of mobility.

Why Is There Sewer Water with Polio?

Once infected, the virus resides in a patient’s throat and intestines. Fecal matter that goes into the sewer system will also contain viral material. Sewer water with polio indicates that the illness is spreading in the local community. Finding the virus in New York Sewer Systems is especially concerning because of the large population.

Public health officials suspect that the poliovirus found in NYC sewers may have come from someone visiting from outside the country. The genetic material found in the water with polio comes from a virus strain used in an oral vaccine.

Since 2000, the United States has only used vaccines prepared with inactivated viruses. This series of injections eliminate the possibility of unintentional spreading. However, the oral vaccine made with the live virus is still in use in other parts of the world. When someone receives the oral vaccine, they can spread the illness for a few days.

New York Sewer Systems and Public Health

Polio showing up in New York sewer systems is not the first wastewater news related to public health. Measuring viral material in wastewater provides valuable information about the spread of illness in a region. Many cities used wastewater analysis to track the progress of COVID-19 during the pandemic.

Public health officials appreciate wastewater sampling because it provides health data without jeopardizing patient privacy. Researchers can report on the prevalence of a virus, bacteria, or drug based on the byproducts found in the waste stream.

SCADA Systems and Wastewater Management

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems can play an essential part in this public health effort. SCADA uses sensors throughout a more extensive operation to report data on performance and efficiency. For water systems, this typically involves measurements of water pressure, flow rates, and quality. However, sensors that look for specific genetic material could also be part of the system.

With a well-designed SCADA setup, the system would automatically alert health officials of the presence of a virus. Then, health officials could take samples in different neighborhoods to see where the virus is detected. This type of tracing could prevent a regional outbreak.

Benefiting from Cloud-Based SCADA

At High Tide Technologies, we specialize in designing and implementing SCADA systems for the water industry. Our team works with a cloud-based model that allows managers and service personnel to connect from any location on a mobile device. This arrangement results in a more efficient system and faster response times. Contact us today to learn more about how SCADA technology can benefit your system.