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February 10, 2015

Poliovirus detected in Islamabad sewage


February 10, 2015


ISLAMABAD: In a rather startling development coinciding with the launch of a joint measles and polio vaccination campaign in the municipal limits of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) here on Monday, poliovirus has been detected in one particular sample of sewage collected from the capital, sources in the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) disclosed.
According to officials, a total of 12 sewage samples were collected from Islamabad in the last week of January. Of these, 11 tested negative while one sample collected from Sector I-11 emerged positive.
Talking to this reporter, Director CDA Directorate of Health Services Dr. Hasan Orooj maintained that the positive sample will be repeated today (Tuesday) to re-establish whether it actually was positive, given that all the remaining 11 samples were negative.
“I am rather awed by this news. Just as there is an air of uncertainly when a negative sample emerges in the midst of persistently positive samples, there is also an air of uncertainly when a positive sample suddenly emerges out of the blue in the midst of persistently negative samples,” Dr. Orooj expressed.
He said the genetic sequencing of the collected samples was yet to take place to ascertain where the virus had originated from.Positive sewage samples had been received last year from Lahore, Karachi, Sukkur, Multan, Peshawar, Hyderabad, and even as close as in Rawalpindi.
Islamabad has been free of polio for 8 years now. “There is no polio in the municipal limits of Islamabad,” Dr. Orooj asserted.At the national level, Pakistan has already confirmed six cases of polio so far this year. At a time, when even a single case of polio is a case too many, the country’s polio leadership has been proudly flaunting how their efforts have led to curtailment of the number of cases to ‘only’ six.
Meanwhile, the joint measles and polio vaccination campaign that teed off in the municipal limits

of Islamabad on Monday will continue till February 21. The campaign is targeting 262,000 children aged 6 months to 10 years for measles vaccination, and 131,832 children from birth to five years for polio immunization.
Islamabad, Dr. Orooj shared, has been divided into 10 zones for the campaign. As many as 124 teams have been constituted to reach children. These include outreach and mobile teams, as well as 35 fixed centres.
“Children who are missed because they may either be sleeping or at school are systematically checked by members of mobile teams so that they do not escape vaccination coverage,” he said. Outreach teams numbering 75 are assisted by social mobilizers who motivate people to bring their children forward for protection against measles and polio. Each outreach team has five members consisting of a skilled person who can administer injections, a member who administers polio drops, a documentation expert, and 2 social mobilizers,” Dr. Orooj shared.




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