NEW YORK (PIX11) — The virus that causes polio has been detected in New York City wastewater, health officials said Friday, calling the discovery “alarming” and urging Big Apple residents to get vaccinated. Friday’s troubling announcement follows the identification of a case of paralytic polio in Rockland County on July 21, as well as the detection of poliovirus in wastewater samples collected in Rockland and Orange counties

“For every one case of paralytic polio identified, hundreds more may be undetected,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a news release confirming the virus’ discovery in wastewater sampling in the five boroughs. “The detection of poliovirus in wastewater samples in New York City is alarming, but not surprising. Already, the State Health Department—working with local and federal partners—is responding urgently, continuing case investigation and aggressively assessing spread.”

Both Bassett and her counterpart at the city Department of Health, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, urged vaccination, especially for young New Yorkers. “The risk to New Yorkers is real but the defense is so simple—get vaccinated against polio,” said Vasan. “Polio is entirely preventable and its reappearance should be a call to action for all of us.”

Polio can cause permanent paralysis of the limbs and even death. Most people who contract the virus do not experience any symptoms, though some will experience flu-like symptoms including a sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, and stomach pain, according to health officials. One in 25 people infected get viral meningitis, and about one in 200 become paralyzed, officials said. There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented through safe and effective immunization.

Most adults do not need the polio vaccine because they were already immunized as children, and most kids are already protected as well because inoculation against the disease is recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and required by the state Department of Health for school-aged children, according to Friday’s release.

However, officials noted that polio outbreaks are ongoing worldwide, and advised children and adults alike to be up-to-date on all routine vaccinations before traveling. That includes a one-time booster shot for adults who were immunized as children, if they’re planning on traveling to an area currently seeing an outbreak.

And for those in need of vaccines, options are available, according to health officials.

“We are dealing with a trifecta,” Mayor Eric Adams said Friday on CNN. “COVID is still very much here. Polio, we have identified polio in our sewage, and we’re still dealing with the monkeypox crisis. But the team is there. And we’re coordinating and we’re addressing the threats as they come before us, and we’re prepared to deal with them with the assistance of Washington, D.C.”

The announcement about the discovery of the polio virus in New York City comes shortly after British health authorities reported finding evidence the virus has spread in London but found no cases in people. Children ages 1-9 in London were made eligible for booster doses of a polio vaccine Wednesday.

Most people infected with polio have no symptoms but can still give the virus to others for days or weeks. Vaccination offers strong protection and authorities urged people who haven’t gotten the shots to seek one immediately. Based on past outbreaks, it is possible that hundreds of people in the state have gotten polio and don’t know it, officials said.

Polio was once one of the nation’s most feared diseases, with annual outbreaks causing thousands of cases of paralysis. The disease mostly affects children. Vaccines became available starting in 1955, and a national vaccination campaign cut the annual number of U.S. cases to less than 100 in the 1960s and fewer than 10 in the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A small percentage of people who polio suffer paralysis. The disease is fatal for between 5-10% of those paralyzed. All schoolchildren in New York are required to have a polio vaccine, but Rockland and Orange counties are both known as centers of vaccine resistance.

The Associated Press contributed to this report