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Oakland County wastewater to be tested for signs of polio

This 2014 illustration made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depicts a polio virus particle.
Sarah Poser, Meredith Boyter Newlove/CDC via AP
This 2014 illustration made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depicts a polio virus particle.

State and federal researchers will soon begin testing wastewater in Oakland County for signs of polio.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to start collecting wastewater samples for analysis at CDC’s polio laboratory.

The findings will help jurisdictions prioritize vaccination efforts in what they call "communities of concern."

“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.

Wastewater testing will occur in areas with potentially low polio vaccination coverage, or with possible connections to the at-risk communities that are linked to a case where a man was diagnosed with paralytic polio outside New York City.

Testing will also take place in Philadelphia.

The CDC says vaccination remains the best way to prevent another case of paralytic polio.

Researchers add that not all potential detections will be cause for concern. In the United States, the risk to the public is low because most people — greater than 92% of Americans — were vaccinated during childhood.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.