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Tuesday June 25, 2024

Pakistan reports first polio case of 2023

The crippling disease has affected both legs of the boy, say officials

By M. Waqar Bhatti
March 17, 2023
A health worker administers polio vaccine to a child during Polio Free Pakistan campaign in Latifabad. — APP/File
A health worker administers polio vaccine to a child during Polio Free Pakistan campaign in Latifabad. — APP/File

Poliovirus has been detected in a three-year-old boy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) — the first case of the crippling disease in the country for the year 2023.

The minor boy — a resident of Ghora Bakka Khel in Bannu — has tested positive for the virus, confirmed the health officials.

The crippling disease has affected both legs of the minor boy. The patient and his family have no travel history, said the authorities.

On January 24, Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Abdul Qadir Patel confirmed the country’s first detection of the wild poliovirus in 2023 — found in an environmental sample in Lahore.

However, the virus has been periodically detected in its sewage water. The poliovirus found in Gulshan-e-Ravi's sample found links to Afghanistan's Nangahar province from last November, the Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health (NIH) said.

Meanwhile, Patel said that the two "countries are united in the fight against the virus and are working together to eradicate" the crippling disease.

He renewed the government’s commitment to completely eradicate the crippling disease from the country.

He added that while the isolation of the virus was a cause of concern, it was excellent to note that it was detected promptly. "This timely detection of the virus in the environment was crucial to protecting children from being paralysed by the poliovirus."

Stressing the need to vaccinate children timely, the minister said: “The only way to stop the virus is to vaccinate all children under the age of five. It is critically important that parents and caregivers, particularly in Lahore, ensure that their child is vaccinated in the February round.”