Wastewater Testing in Ulster County is Negative for Polio

Posted September 17, 2022

Poliovirus testing from the past two weeks of sampling done in Kingston and New Paltz were negative

Regular poliovirus testing will be added to Kingston and New Paltz wastewater testing in Ulster County 

Ulster County residents who are not vaccinated for polio or incompletely vaccinated are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated without delay. There is low risk to those who are fully vaccinated 


KINGSTON, N.Y. - The Office of the Ulster County Executive announced today that the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), at the request of the Ulster County Department of Health, tested two weeks of sample wastewater taken from Kingston and New Paltz, and the results were negative for poliovirus. Poliovirus testing will now continue to be a regular part of wastewater surveillance in Kingston and New Paltz.

“We thank the New York State Department of Health and CDC for enabling proactive testing of our wastewater. The results are reassuring, and I want to assure Ulster County residents that we are doing everything in our power to protect public health,” Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras said. “Polio is preventable through safe and effective vaccination, and I strongly encourage all residents who are not vaccinated for polio to call their doctor and get vaccinated without delay.” 

“Polio is a highly contagious disease that was thought to have been controlled through the administration of a very safe, effective and proven vaccine. This is why the polio vaccine has been mandatory for all students attending public schools in New York State, for decades. The recent polio case that was diagnosed in New York State occurred in an unvaccinated person. In general, communicable disease outbreaks occur in those locations that have below average child vaccination rates,” Commissioner Dr. Carol Smith said. “While the polio testing results for Ulster County are negative, it doesn't mean that our community is immune from polio in the long term. Getting all of your children vaccinated is the best and only way to protect them from this serious disease. We urge every person to check with their physician’s office, to make sure that everyone in the family is up to date with polio, and all other essential vaccinations."

In New York State, wastewater is now being tested for the presence of the virus that causes polio. This is done by collecting wastewater samples from community wastewater treatment plants and sending them to laboratories to measure the amount of the virus in the sample. This method ensures individual privacy and anonymity because samples cannot be traced back to any individual or household. Positive results for polio detected in the wastewater only indicate that the virus is present in the community and does not indicate how many people are actually infected with the virus.

Governor Kathy Hochul issued an Executive Order on September 9th, 2022, declaring a State Disaster Emergency due to evidence of circulating poliovirus. The New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) advises all New Yorkers who are unvaccinated, including children by 2 months of age, those who are pregnant, and people who have not completed their polio vaccine series previously to get immunized right away. Unvaccinated New Yorkers or those not up to date with immunizations who live, work, go to school in, or visit Rockland County, Orange County, New York City, Sullivan County, and Nassau County are at the highest risk of contracting paralytic disease, according to the State. There is low risk to those who are fully vaccinated.

NYS DOH advises that the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), the only vaccine available in the United States, is safe, and contains no live virus. It protects 99 – 100 percent of people who get all recommended doses. In accordance with CDC, the polio immunization schedule by age is as follows:

  • All children should get 4 doses of the polio vaccine. The first dose should be given at 6 weeks through 2 months of age, followed by one dose given at 4 months of age, 6 through 18 months old, and 4 through 6 years old.
  • Adults who have only had 1 or 2 doses of the polio vaccine in the past should get the remaining 1 or 2 doses – it does not matter how long it has been since the earlier doses.
  • In addition, adults who live or work in the areas where poliovirus has been detected (Rockland County, Orange County, New York City, Sullivan County, and Nassau County) and don't believe they are vaccinated should get vaccinated.

At this time, the following New Yorkers who have previously completed their polio vaccine series should receive one lifetime booster dose of IPV, per NYS DOH guidelines:

  • Individuals who will or might have close contact with a person known or suspected to be infected with poliovirus or such person's household members or other close contacts.
  • Healthcare providers working in areas where poliovirus has been detected (Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County, New York City, or Nassau County) who might handle specimens that might contain polioviruses or who treat patients who might have polio (e.g., urgent care, emergency department, neurology, virology laboratory workers).
  • Individuals with occupational exposure to wastewater can consider a booster.

New Yorkers can learn more about polio and polio immunization here. Information about wastewater surveillance and results is available here.