KARACHI: The National Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health Islamabad has reported Sindh’s first case of environmental sample testing positive for the wild poliovirus Type-1.

The sample was collected from a sewage line from Landhi’s Bakhtawar goth in August this year.

The previous positive sample from Karachi was reported in May 2021 whereas the last wild poliovirus case from the district was reported in June 2020.

So far, this year 22 environmental samples collected from various parts of the country have been tested positive for the polio virus; 13 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, seven from Punjab and one each from Sindh and Islamabad.

In 2021, 65 positive environmental samples were detected in the country. Last month, the country reported its 15th wild poliovirus case after a 17-month-old child from North Waziristan contracted the disease.

According to officials, an immediate response round (sub-national) was implemented in August to mitigate the risks associated with poliovirus detection from the environment, besides extended outreach activities are also currently in progress in the districts with recent positive environmental samples.

Currently, wild poliovirus is endemic in two countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

According to the WHO, the detection of wild poliovirus Type-1 outside these two countries where the disease is endemic demonstrates the continuous risk of international spread of the disease until every corner of the world is free of the virus. There is no cure for polio; it can only be prevented by immunisation.

So far, this year, Pakistan has reported 17 cases of polio virus. Last year, nine cases were reported.

Meanwhile, provincial health minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho has held a meeting where she was informed that the number of persistently missed children had reduced significantly in Sindh because of the special initiatives, supplementary immunization activities and health camps being conducted across the province, especially in super high-risk and high-risk union councils.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2022

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