Health officials to test for polio in Oakland County, CDC says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it will conduct wastewater testing for the poliovirus in Michigan.

The expansion of wastewater testing is part of the CDC's effort to better prioritize vaccination efforts in communities of concern. The testing will be conducted in areas with "potentially low polio vaccination coverage" a release from the agency.

Testing may also occur in counties with "possible connections" to at-risk communities in New York where a single case pf paralytic polio was detected.

Health departments in Oakland County in Michigan and Philadelphia were among the first agencies to be selected for the testing. Testing will last for at least four months.

"Wastewater testing can be an important tool to help us understand if poliovirus may be circulating in communities in certain circumstances," said Dr. José R. Romero, Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "Vaccination remains the best way to prevent another case of paralytic polio, and it is critically important that people get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families and their communities against this devastating disease."

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Officials say identifying the virus in sewage can help a city or county accelerate and target vaccination campaigns.

Health officials around the world have used wastewater to track COVID-19 outbreaks. The CDC currently is receiving wastewater sampling data for the coronavirus from all 50 states. This year, commercial laboratories began testing wastewater for mpox, previously known as monkeypox.

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Next year, health officials in Houston and Colorado plan to begin testing sewage for several other health threats, including germs with antibiotic resistance, influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, norovirus and other bugs. If the pilot goes well, the wider testing will be rolled out to other parts of the country, CDC officials said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.