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Poliovirus reported in five environmental samples in Pakistan

17 December, 2023 20:37

Wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) has been found in six environmental samples collected from five districts of Pakistan.

The virus was detected in three samples from two districts of southwest Balochistan province, two from two districts in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and one from the southern port city of Karachi, the ministry of health said in a statement.

“In 84 out of the 90 positive sewage samples this year, we have detected the imported cluster, which highlights the constant risk of poliovirus spread through cross-border transmission,” said Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan, adding that “As long as the virus remains in circulation, no child anywhere is safe from it.”

Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication said :“We have detected six polio cases and 90 positive environmental samples so far this year,” he said. “With every detection, we have conducted multiple rounds of vaccination to boost children’s immunity in affected areas, including three nationwide campaigns.”

The health ministry underlined that parents must give their children a polio vaccine during every polio immunization campaign.

According to the World Health Organization, Pakistan is one of the two polio-endemic countries in the world along with its neighbor Afghanistan. This year, Pakistan reported six polio cases, said the health ministry.

Polio vaccination

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free, except for the two endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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