PESHAWAR: As the National Health Institute (NIH) confirmed that stool samples of a two-year-old girl in Lakki Marwat have tested positive for carrying the poliovirus in the first polio case of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa this year, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the province has decided to carry out an intensive case-response campaign in six southern districts.
For this purpose, the EOC has planned a three-day anti-polio drive in Lakki Marwat, Dera Ismail Khan, Hangu, Karak, Tank and Bannu districts to stop virus transmission in the region, read a statement issued by EOC.
It added that the special campaign will commence on Monday followed by a one-day catch-up in the six districts.
According to EOC officials, they plan to vaccinate around 967,000 children against the polio virus during the campaign. For this purpose, 3,427 teams, including 3,385 mobile, 266 fixed, 215 transit while 61 roaming teams will participate in the campaign.
Further, the district administration has undertaken strict security measures to ensure that the campaign is carried out smoothly and safely. In this regards, to 5,561 security personnel have been deployed across the six districts to provide security cover to the Sehat Muhafiz.
The first polio case in K-P was confirmed in Lakki Marwat on August 21 when two-year-old Zunaira from the Tajori Union Council tested positive for the crippling virus. The case came over a year after the last poliovirus case in the province.
Zunaira’s stool samples, tested at the NIH, came back positive for carrying the poliovirus.
The toddler had been vaccinated oral polio vaccine at least seven times besides being injected by the inactivated vaccine once.
Despite testing positive for polio, she did not display any visible signs of paralysis.
According to Zunaira’s case summary, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, her uncle drove her to a local practitioner, most likely a quack, as she had a fever. She was administered an intramuscular injection into her right buttock which had a side effect that weakened her right leg.
The preliminary report for acute flaccid paralysis, the case was reported on August 21 and the stool samples were collected on August 28. The samples were then sent to the NIH on August 30 followed by another sample the following day. The results tested positive for poliovirus. After DNA sequencing, the virus was traced back to Multan.
Zunaira’s history-sheet reads she did not belong to any migrating group nor did her family members travel outside of Lakki Marwat within 35 days of the paralysis.
The vaccination details also confirmed the child had been administered inactivated polio vaccine on April 26 which had strengthened her immunity against the crippling virus.
“Yes, the virus exists but Zunaira’s strengthened immunity [due to the vaccine] saved her from being crippled for life,” a senior health official told The Express Tribune. “I am proud of our surveillance system as the moment her leg weakened we got a whiff of it.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2017.
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