Poliovirus detected from sewage in 10 cities during January

Critically important to ensure every child gets two drops of vaccine: NEOC

Our Correspondent February 15, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The fight against polio suffers another setback as the Pakistan Polio Eradication Programme has detected poliovirus in the sewage of 10 cities during the last month. According to results shared by the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), the extensive environmental surveillance has detected the presence of poliovirus in sewage samples collected from Faisalabad, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Sukkur, Killa Abdullah, Quetta, Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar and South Waziristan during January.

Considering the associated risks, the country programme has urged parents to ensure immunization of all children under the age of five years during the polio campaigns.

“Polio eradication is a delicate time race between us (parents and health-care workers) and a deadly poliovirus. We have to collectively ensure that we reach all children with multiple doses of vaccination before the virus reach unprotected children,” remarked NEOC Coordinator Dr Rana Safdar.

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He said that winter months provide the best chance to tackle the disease as it provides the advantage of being the low transmission season. “The programme is focusing on children who miss vaccination because of any reason and let the virus survive no longer,” Dr Safdar added.

Pakistan has already had confirmed cases of the virus in the new year, with a 3-month old baby in Hangu paralysed due to poliovirus in the sewage of South Waziristan, while another infant contracted the virus in Lahore.

“It is a reminder to everyone that presence of poliovirus in the sewage of these towns can cause life-long paralysis, especially if the child is not repeatedly vaccinated, in the same town or in a distant town due to the frequent population movement. I can’t emphasize enough how critically important it is to ensure that each and every child is vaccinated,” said Babar Atta, the Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Polio Eradication


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