The Chicago Department of Public Health announced Friday that it has begun monitoring wastewater for the polio virus.
No cases of polio have been identified in Chicago or Illinois, but the department said it is proactively testing water from plants in the city and surrounding suburbs with various partner agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .
Polio has been considered eradicated in the United States since 1979 after the spread of the vaccine started two decades earlier.
But a case of paralytic polio was identified in New York State in July 2022, and more sewage testing found poliovirus in New York counties with low vaccination rates.
The New York case “highlights the importance of rapid detection,” CDPH Deputy Commissioner Massimo Pacilli said in a news release.
So do New York health officials issued a notice last week calling on anyone traveling to Israel to be fully vaccinated after four children recently tested positive in northern Israel.
Most Illinois adults and children have been vaccinated against polio. The Illinois Department of Public Health, like many other state health departments, requires that children be vaccinated against polio, among other diseases. enroll in school and nurseries.
Polio is a contagious disease for which there is no cure. It can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis, and before the vaccine was available, it caused major public health fears, with tens of thousands of cases a year in the US, according to the CDC, many of its child victims. Among those suffering from paralysis from polio was President Franklin Roosevelt.
Local wastewater is already monitored for the presence of substances, including COVID-19, which has helped public health officials track the virus during the pandemic.