2023 Wastewater Investigation

Wastewater Testing for Poliovirus in the United States

If you are considering wastewater testing for poliovirus, call your state and/or local health department. Work with them to consider whether to initiate this type of testing.

List of state public health departments

CDC is working with select jurisdictions to strategically expand wastewater testing for poliovirus in jurisdictions with potentially low polio vaccination coverage. Wastewater data can help us better understand what areas might be at the highest risk for polio spread and might need to increase local vaccination efforts. CDC will support participating jurisdictions in testing wastewater, responding to positive wastewater detections, and improving vaccination rates, if requested.

What does it mean if a wastewater sample tests positive for poliovirus?

Finding poliovirus in sewage or wastewater indicates that someone in the community is shedding poliovirus that could infect and cause disease in people who are not vaccinated against polio. Wastewater samples are untreated wastewater taken from wastewater treatment plants. This does not mean that poliovirus would be found in open drains or potable water.

It is important to note that not all positive detections for poliovirus are cause for concern. The concern would be if polioviruses are detected in areas with low vaccination rates, where many individuals are at risk for becoming infected and developing polio. Overall, the risk of polio to the public in the United States is low. Most people are vaccinated against polio during childhood and are protected against serious illness.

Participating Jurisdictions

Participating Jurisdictions
Jurisdiction Health Department
Chicago Chicago Department of Public Health
Michigan Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
New York State New York State Department of Health