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September 18, 2020

Immunised infant catches poliovirus

Top Story

September 18, 2020

TOBA TEK SINGH / LAHORE: A six-month-old girl of Pirmahal has been detected as poliovirus patient.

The Health Department had received a complaint from Bashir Ahmad of Chak Akbar Sahu located near the River Ravi’s Head Sidhnai that his six-month-old daughter Sawera Bibi’s one leg has been paralyzed. The Health Department had sent her stool sample to the Islamabad National Institute of Health where it was confirmed that the girl had been suffering from poliovirus Type-2.

District Health Authority Chief Executive Officer Dr Mumtaz Hussain said that after the confirmation of poliovirus to the baby, an inquiry was ordered by him and it was found that she had been immunised not only for polio but all other epidemic diseases. He said his teams inspected all the villages located in Pirmahal Tehsil’s Union Council 73 and it was found that some of the other children remained unimmunized so an anti-polio vaccination has been made under a programme in the union council while special anti-polio vaccination has also been started in all other Tehsils of the district.

When contacted, Punjab Polio Programme spokesman Wasif Mahmood denied that any new case of wild poliovirus was reported in Toba Tek Singh, saying that the child was among the six cases of poliovirus Type-2 detected a couple of weeks ago in three districts of Faisalabad, Jhang and Toba Tek Singh.

When asked about the reason of emergence of poliovirus despite immunization of the child against poliovirus, he ruled out any problem in the vaccine, but claimed that the main reason for emergence of poliovirus Type-2 is due to weak routine immunization. “Three districts of Faisalabad, Jhang and Toba Tek Singh have been specially marked with weak routine immunization,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a statement on Thursday, Punjab Polio Programme Incharge Sundas Irshad informed that the upcoming national polio vaccination drive will be held on September 21. “The campaign will help break the transmission of the virus,” she added.

In view of the coronavirus pandemic that struck Punjab in late March, more than 30 million children, including nearly 18 million in Punjab alone, are deprived of polio vaccines across Pakistan due to the cessation of anti-polio activities. According to experts, the polio is a highly infectious disease caused by wild poliovirus, mostly affecting children under the age of five, which invades the nervous system and causes paralysis or even death.

With one more kid falling victim to the crippling disease, the cases of poliovirus Type-2 in Punjab have risen to 12 this year so far, while overall 62 WPV cases have been reported from across Pakistan in 2020 so far.

Out of a total of 62 cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus Type-2 (cVDPV2) confirmed across Pakistan in 2020 so far, 42 cases were confirmed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 12 in Punjab, seven in Sindh and one in Balochistan. In the preceding years, only two cases of cVDPV2 were confirmed in Pakistan in 2015, one case in 2016, none in 2017 and 2018, while cVDPV2 surged again with confirmation of 22 cases in 2019.

To add to this, 72 confirmed wild poliovirus (WPV-1) cases in Pakistan this year so far including 22 cases each have been reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, 19 in Balochistan and nine in Punjab.

In the preceding years, a total of two wild poliovirus cases were confirmed in Punjab among overall 54 cases in 2015; no case was reported in Punjab among a total of 20 cases in 2016; one case was confirmed in Punjab among overall eight cases in the country in 2017; none was reported in Punjab among 12 cases confirmed in 2018; and 12 cases were reported in Punjab among 147 cases confirmed in the country in 2019. Unfortunately, Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world, along with Afghanistan, which is still affected by poliovirus.