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Polio virus from Pakistan reaches Israel

Published Jul 19, 2013 10:18am


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ISLAMABAD, July 18: A polio virus found recently in southern Israel is exactly of the same kind as prevalent in Pakistan.

Dr Nima Abid, a representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Pakistan, while talking to Dawn expressed surprise over the development.

“We don’t have details how the virus travelled all the way to Israel.”

It may be noted that Pakistan and Israel have no diplomatic relations.

According to Dr Abid, “The virus genotype (genetic make-up) is the same as prevalent in Pakistan and this is what the research has indicated.”

He added: “We are amazed how it travelled all the way to Israel since the virus only existed in Pakistan. However, similar virus samples were also found in Egypt a few months back which had linkages with the Pakistan polio virus type-I (P-I).”

He said the virus was definitely from Pakistan since the genotype was from the same family of virus that existed in Pakistan.

For the last five years, there have been no cases of polio in Egypt, and in Israel much before that, said the WHO official.

He added that the laboratory at the National Institute of Health (NIH) was taking samples from every polio affected area and then performing its genotype tests. “And the P-I virus genotype is the same as prevalent in Pakistan.”

Dr Abid added: “The research is related to where the virus first travelled, either it first reached Egypt or Israel?”

The WHO official added that samples of same virus strain were also found in sewage in Cairo, Egypt, in December last year.

The WHO website relating to Israel, an update on polio, said: “Most positive WPV1 (polio virus) samples were detected from southern Israel. All viruses have been detected in sewage only.”

The website added: “WHO’s international travel and health recommends that all travellers to and from the polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio. Three countries remain endemic for indigenous transmission of WPV: Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Additionally, in 2013, the Horn of Africa was also affected by an outbreak of WPV.”

About how a virus travelled, a senior physician in Islamabad, refusing to share his name with Dawn, observed: “Even an elderly person can transmit the polio virus as it remains in the intestinal track of humans for many days regardless of their age.”

He explained that polio virus entered the body through mouth by consuming water or food that has been contaminated with waste material (stool) from an infected person.

The physician said polio virus multiple in the human intestine and an infected person who passed the stool at any place can pass on the virus to other people.

When contacted, Mazhar Nisar, the spokesman for the EPI Cell, said the Pakistani authorities were very alert in limiting the travel of polio virus to any other region and running the national immunisation days and campaigns.

“If you look at our performance, the number of polio cases this year has gone down to a great extent compared to the corresponding period last year,” he maintained.

According to the polio cell figures, around 25 polio cases were reported from January to June 2012 in Pakistan. This year, the number is just 18 and most of the cases have been reported from Fata and different parts of Khyber Pkahtunkwa. He added: “We are facing security issues for polio vaccinators and refusal case from parents.”


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Comments (5) Closed

Enkay Jul 19, 2013 02:02pm

This is a warning to India to be extremely cautious and lay very Stringent Condition as well as Medical Checks along with proper Immunization Documentation of Pakistanis travelling to India.


Amin Jul 19, 2013 02:43pm

Or it was always Israeli and put into Pakistan. Remember the corrupt Doctor working for the Americans???

KH Jul 19, 2013 10:09pm

@Enkay: Dude you have got far greater internal problems of your own in the area of medicine. Polio would not even make top 100.

Zvi Jul 19, 2013 10:48pm

Pakistan remains one of the world's few reservoirs of the polio virus

primarily because your home-grown conspiracy theorists - in effect, traitors to the human race, who side with a mindless, destructive virus over their own people - prevent some Pakistani kids from being inoculated against it because the vaccine comes from the west.

Israel has had no indigenous polio virus for 25 years. Egypt has had no indigenous polio virus for 9 years. Prior to this event, Israel had stopped vaccinating against polio, because there was simply no virus in the wild anymore.

Pakistanis don't travel to Israel, but Pakistani polio is regularly reported in certain African countries. People from all of these countries are found in Egypt, and some try to sneak into Israel. The Pakistani variant of the polio virus showed up in Egypt months before it appeared in Israel, so it is pretty clear how this virus traveled.

When the virus did appear in southern Israel - most likely carried by Israeli Arabs who had visited Egypt, or by Africans who entered Israel via Sinai, seeking work - Israel requested a WHO visit. This is because Israel has no polio experts. The WHO recommended that Israel vaccinate southern Israeli kids, and Israel did so immediately.

The conspiracy theorists who obstruct the solution to the problem of polio are people like commenter "Amin", who ignores reality, medical history, science, etc. Really... ! Start fixing home-grown Pakistani problems and stop blaming Israel for them. Israel tests sewage samples for polio regularly, and responded to the appearance of polio by vaccinating its people, not by concocting insane conspiracy theories. When will Pakistan finally vaccinate ALL of its people so that polio can be eradicated from the world?

a Jul 20, 2013 06:36am

@Enkay: A pretty selfish remark.