Polio virus found in Egypt linked to Pakistan: Officials

Published: January 22, 2013
Infants leaving the country to be vaccinated at airports. PHOTO: FILE

Infants leaving the country to be vaccinated at airports. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani health officials Monday called for infants leaving the country to be issued polio vaccinations at airports after virus samples linked to a southern Pakistani city were discovered in Egypt.

Two sewage samples from Cairo were analysed and found to resemble a recently discovered strain in Sukkur, a joint statement by health officials, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF said.

“To reduce the possibility of spread of the polio virus beyond Pakistan’s borders, the government’s Monitoring and Coordination Cell is advising to set up permanent vaccination counters at the international departure lounges of all airports,” it said.

The statement recommended that “all children under five years leaving the country are vaccinated against the polio virus.”

Though Egypt has been polio-free since 2004, authorities there have ordered the immediate vaccination of all children under five years of age in the areas where the samples were found.

Polio cases in Pakistan have risen sharply in recent years, hitting 198 in 2011 — the highest figure for more than a decade and the most of any country in the world, according to the WHO.

Unicef’s acting chief of polio unit Michael Coleman said the incident highlighted the importance of vaccination in Pakistan.

“It reinforces the urgent need of all caregivers across Pakistan to vaccinate children under five years of age against polio through the nearest health facility or through campaign vaccination teams,” he said.

The prime minister’s advisor on polio eradication Shahnaz Wazir Ali termed the case “a stark reminder of the risks associated with active polio virus transmission in the country.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where the highly infectious crippling disease remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Earlier this month Pakistan provided paramilitary and police support to polio vaccination teams in the northwest after a series of attacks on medical workers.

UN agencies suspended work on a nationwide campaign to inoculate children against the highly infectious disease after nine health workers were murdered in a string of attacks in the northwest and Karachi in December last year.

Rumours about the vaccine being a plot to sterilise Muslims have long dogged efforts to tackle the disease in Pakistan.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Pessimist
    Jan 22, 2013 - 3:12AM

    Yay Pakistan!

    We have now begun exports to Egypt!


  • Roni
    Jan 22, 2013 - 3:31AM

    Thanks to the terrorist Taliban we are now leader in spreading the infectious diseases beside drugs and terrorism.Recommend

  • Asad
    Jan 22, 2013 - 3:58AM

    Vaccinate kids at the appropriate age, not at the airports… If a kid is infected, a dose of the vaccine will NOT immediately stop the viral shedding… the idea is diplomatically correct, medically ridiculous…


  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    Jan 22, 2013 - 5:25AM

    This is an index case and proves that Pakistan is exporting polio virus. CDC and WHO should learn from spread of SARS virus. Ban travel of children under six year and start quarantine and vaccinating everyone arriving from Pakistan or stop issuing visa all together. World can survive if Pakistani do not enter their country for next few years. Life goes on. Why jeopardize people from other part of the world for ignorance of few in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria? Darwin’s selection theory at work.


  • Polpot
    Jan 22, 2013 - 6:45AM

    “Polio virus found in Egypt linked to Pakistan: Officials”
    Islamic Brotherhood.


  • Yoghurt lover
    Jan 22, 2013 - 6:47AM

    India should take note of it and impose serious visa restrictions to Pakistanis traveling to India.


  • IndianDude
    Jan 22, 2013 - 8:10AM

    When visa between india-pakistan was liberalized, i had commented on the same issue. India has just been declared a polio-free country last year. With free movement and increased interactions with pakistani, india is most likely to get the polio vaccine, not to mention free movement of the pakistani-state sponsored terrorists through ‘legal’ immigration channel.


  • Dooli
    Jan 22, 2013 - 9:57AM

    Even viurses are emigrating from Pakistan


  • Satish, Chennai
    Jan 22, 2013 - 10:40AM

    One more export from Pakistan, which the world needs to dread about !!!


  • Aristo
    Jan 22, 2013 - 10:43AM

    Another big time failure of PPP. Even the infamous kids are sheer incompetent as they are supposedly heading the campaign this time around. Now as usual they will come up with ridiculous excuses and justifications of their utter failure.


  • hero
    Jan 22, 2013 - 11:21AM

    then us must stopped its peoples to spreading disease of flu all over the world they should also banned in the world


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