Unicef has confirmed that the virus in Syria has been transmitted from Pakistan. — File Photo
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani polio virus strain, which has already affected five countries in the past 22 months, has now become a threat to European countries as well.
The warning came from a reliable health journal of Europe: ‘The Lancet Medical Journal’.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) had confirmed the presence of polio virus among children in northeast Syria. However, the Syrian government alleged that the virus had arrived from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) as Pakistanis from this part of the country were fighting along with the Syrian rebels.
Dr Martin Eichner of the University of Tübingen and Stefan Brockmann of Germany's Reutlingen Regional Public Health Office in his article published in the journal noted that most European countries give polio vaccine once at the time of birth rather than giving immunisation repeatedly.
“Since a large number of refugees are fleeing Syria and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries and Europe, there is now a chance the virus could travel into the areas which have been polio-free for decades,” he said.
It is pertinent to mention that in January 2012, as many as 21 children were affected because of the virus in a Chinese province and it was confirmed that the virus came from Pakistan.
In December 2012, the virus was detected in the Al-Azhar University, Egyt and it was again the Pakistani one traveled from Sukkur (Sindh). In March 2013, the same virus was also traced in Palestine and just after three months it was detected in Israel.
Unicef has confirmed that the virus in Syria has been transmitted from Pakistan.
However, it (Unicef) has not confirmed which part of the country it came from.
A health expert requesting not to be identified said that Syria had been claiming that the virus was transmitted from Fata because it wanted to prove the foreign militants’ involvement in the country’s uprising.
“According to our research, the virus which has been detected in Syria was the same that was traced in Egypt and it might have been transmitted from Egypt to Syria,” he said.
Secretary, Social Services Fata, Aftab Durrani said that government of Pakistan knew that it was a very sensitive issue and Pakistanis could face traveling ban in Europe.