LAHORE: In what appeared to be a rare precedent in Pakistan so far the baby who was reported as first polio ‘victim’ of 2015 in Punjab on Oct 9 was not paralysed by the disease.
The development shocked experts from the World Health Organization, Unicef and the Punjab health department when they came to know that the polio-hit baby in Chakwal was not paralysed despite the fact that official reports had found virus in his body.
“We are in a state of surprise that 71-month-old Farhan of Kotli Saydian village was walking, playing and even running like healthy children despite being attacked by the polio virus,” Punjab Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) Director Dr Munir Ahmed told Dawn.
He said the experts found the boy normal when they reached the village to investigate the case after the Polio Virology Laboratory at the National Institute of Health, Islamabad, confirmed the presence of first polio case of 2015 in Punjab.
“It was hard to believe for the experts when they found the baby walking,” he said adding that the visiting team later filmed his movement. The footages which had been made part of the official record also showed him running like healthy children.
Boy received 15 vaccine doses; experts term it a step towards eradication of disease
Mr Munir said the health officials discussed the case to know the factors as to why the disease could not paralyse the baby and finally concluded that “the case shows the disease is heading to complete eradication.”
“A case of similar nature had surfaced in Bihar area of India in 2010 when the country was heading to complete eradication of polio,” the EPI director said.
To a question, he said the genetic sequence of the virus in the Chakwal case was found to be linked with the virus circulation in Gadap area of Karachi.
He further said Farhan who was tested positive for the virus had received nearly 15 doses of the vaccination which might have increased immunity to challenge the disease.
Another official said Punjab would launch polio campaign in seven districts from Oct 14 to Oct 16 in response to this first polio case.
The districts included Chakwal, Attock, Mianwali, Jhelum, Khushab, Lahore and Rawalpindi, he said. The official added that 116,728 children would be vaccinated in all areas of Chakwal, Attock and Mianwali districts and in selected high-risk union councils of Rawalpindi, Lahore, Jhelum and Khushab. In Chakwal alone, the campaign would target 188,640 children.
The migratory population of the area having any possible links with the genetic link would specifically be targeted.
Published in Dawn, October 14th , 2015