PESHAWAR: The province registered its first polio case of the year with stool samples of a child in the Charsadda district testing positive for the virus.
However, the boy shows none of the physical symptoms which accompany infection of the virus in only about the second such case to surface in the province in as many years.
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Stool samples from 19-month-old Arsalan in Charsadda tested positive for the poliovirus, the National Institute of Health (NIH) confirmed on Wednesday, making him the first case of polio infection in the province in over a year.
Despite tests confirming that the polio virus is present in his body, Arsalan has survived the crippling paralysis which manifests itself in infected children.
This is the second such case in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in the past two years.
In the first such case, two-year-old Zunaira hailing from Lakki Marwat had tested positive for the virus in September last year. Having received seven doses of vaccine as well as the inactivated polio vaccine, her body managed to fight off the virus and did not show any of the physical symptoms of the infection — i.e. physical crippling.
Health officials believe that the reason behind children resisting the virus is the repeated doses administered to them.
Like Zunaira, Arsalan too had received multiple doses of the vaccine. Not only the oral polio vaccine (OPV) but the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) as well which further boosts the immunity of children against the virus.
After testing positive for the virus, Arsalan, who hails from the Serki Tetara area of the Miagan village in Charsadda was shifted to a health facility where doctors reported that he was suffering from Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP).
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However, since the K-P Health Ministry has already declared it mandatory that polio infections be notified, the case was referred to the NIH for further investigation.
“The last time this [19-months old Arsalan] child was vaccinated was on July 2, and stool samples were sent to NIH on August 1 for further investigation,” a senior NIH official confirmed, adding, “The child has survived but the stool samples have tested positive for the virus which means the virus is there.”
“This proves that this is the vaccine which has helped Arsalan resist [the virus] otherwise the boy would have been paralysed for life,” the health official said while requesting anonymity since he was not entitled to speak to the media.
According to NIH officials, Arsalan had been vaccinated multiple times. Three of those inoculations were of IPV and seven times for OPV, adding that the boy had been vaccinated in the past six successive vaccination campaigns with the last one on July 2.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 6th, 2018.
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