Polio virus detected from sewage in seven cities of Pakistan during November
Critically important to ensure every child gets two drops of the polio vaccine during December campaign: National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC)
Islamabad, 30 November 2018 – The extensive environmental surveillance network established by the Pakistan Polio Programme has detected the virus from sewerage of seven populous cities during the month of November. To protect their children from the risk of virus present in the environment, parents need to immunize all children under the age of five years during the last polio campaign of the year, scheduled to start from 10th December.
According to results shared by the Polio Virology Laboratory, National Institute of Health, Islamabad with the National EOC during the last 30 days, poliovirus presence in sewage water was confirmed in Karachi and Sukkur in Sindh, Peshawar and Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lahore and Rawalpindi in Punjab, and the Federal Capital Islamabad.
“Presence of virus anywhere is a threat for vulnerable children. The continuous population movement to and from many of these metropolises pose a real risk to the children elsewhere as well. I can’t emphasize enough how critically important it is to ensure that each and every child is vaccinated during the upcoming polio campaign during the month of December”, remarked Dr. Rana Safdar, National EOC Coordinator, Polio Eradication Initiative.
Sewage water samples are collected on a monthly basis from 58 sampling sites from across the country. The criteria of sample selection include population size, socio-economic status and a functioning sewage system. These samples are collected under the supervision of relevant provincial health departments, and tested by state-of-the-art Regional Polio Reference Laboratory housed at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad. The genetic sequencing further guides the programme in undertaking requisite response activities.
The persistent poliovirus circulation in a given area represents the existence of under-immunized children who miss vaccination in routine and the door to door polio campaigns due to any reason. These missed children pose a risk for themselves as well as other children around them by shedding the virus to the sewage.
“With only 8 cases reported in 2018, Pakistan stands the best chance of getting rid of the crippling virus forever. Every Pakistani must now assume the role of a Sehat Muhafiz to ensure vaccination of all children during every campaign“, urged the Prime Minister’s Focal Person Babar Bin Atta.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, National EOC Coordinator, Polio Eradication Initiative at 03005103689.