Altamonte Springs to test wastewater for Polio, other viruses

City wants to test proactively before any virus may become a potential danger to community, city leaders say

City leaders are looking to start testing wastewater for Polio among other viruses in Altamonte Springs.

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – City leaders are looking to start testing wastewater for Polio among other viruses in Altamonte Springs.

City Manager Frank Martz said officials started looking into testing the water for Polio well before the news broke out of New York that a person tested positive for the disease. He said now, they’re just weeks away from the start of testing.

“Altamonte Springs was one of the first cities in the United States to test for COVID at the outbreak of the pandemic,” Martz said.

Since then, Martz said they started working with the city’s lab to figure out how to also test for other viruses like Monkeypox or Polio in the wastewater.

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“Right now, Polio is not a health threat in Florida but we want to nail the protocols down while we have the resources in place so that if it ever is a concern we can react to it much more quickly,” he said.

Martz said city leaders are glad they thought ahead after hearing in New York an unvaccinated man tested positive for Polio, the first U.S. Case in almost a decade. The New York health department then revealed the virus was found in New York City and two other counties’ wastewater, meaning other people have it too but may not be symptomatic.

“We suspect it’s going to be within the next couple of weeks before we have something that’s ready to do the (research and development) on and we’ll probably roll something out within the month,” said Martz about the city’s testing.

The CDC said Polio usually infects people through the mouth, typically by hands contaminated by an infected person’s fecal matter.

The agency said over 92% of U.S. Children are vaccinated against it as a school requirement and those vaccinated have little to no chance of catching it. If you were to get it, The CDC said most people won’t show symptoms but one in four people will have flu-like symptoms.

Martz said the city is also working to test the area’s wastewater for other viruses to be prepared and substances like synthetic opioids, too.

“Assisting our local law enforcement and health care providers and mental health providers and drug counselors helping them understand the prevalence of usage appears to be,” he said.

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Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.