Polio, a paralytic disease caused by a virus, has been eliminated in the U.S. — and nearly wiped out globally — thanks to vaccines. But social media posts are reviving old, false claims that polio is instead caused by pesticides and outbreaks of the disease ended when people stopped using DDT.
Wastewater surveillance is a public health tool that can track the spread of pathogens. The virus that causes polio was detected in New York City sewage as part of such monitoring efforts. Social media posts, however, have incorrectly claimed the virus was found in tap water. Similar claims have been made about the monkeypox virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it “recommends that children get four doses of polio vaccine.” But Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, when speaking against a potential fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccines, wrongly suggested that the CDC doesn’t recommend four shots of the polio vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been tracking outbreaks of acute flaccid myelitis — a serious condition mainly affecting children — since 2014. The CDC hasn’t seen a reason for concern this year, but Facebook posts have wrongly claimed that the agency has issued a “warning of polio-like outbreak” this fall. The claim seems to have originated from an outdated news article.