ISLAMABAD: The first polio case of 2024 has been reported from Dera Bugti district of Balochis­tan, the regional referen­ce laboratory of National Ins­ti­tute of Health annou­n­ced on Thursday.

It said a 30-month-old boy has been paralysed by wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) in Dera Bugti district of Balochistan and the virus was found in his stool samples.

The child had weakness in his both lower limbs and the isolated virus belongs to the imported YB3A cluster.

Expressing his sadness, federal health secretary Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said: “This virus has paralysed another Pakistani, re­­minding us once again that until we eradicate this virus, our children and children across the world will remain at persistent risk from poliomyelitis.”

The health secretary said: “Poliovirus attacks children whose immunity is not sufficient enough to fight off polio infection and, therefore, it is crucial for parents to understand this fact and make sure that all their children are vaccinated at every opportunity.”

Dr Shahzad Baig, Coor­d­­inator of the National Em­­ergency Operations Ce­­­n­­tre for Polio Eradica­tion, said that a detailed case investigation will be launched immediately to identify the origin of the virus that caused the inf­e­ction, adding that two po­­sitive environmental samples have already been reported from Dera Bugti.

“We have already conducted two nationwide polio vaccination campaigns in 2024 vaccinating more than 45.4 million children under five and following this detection the Programme has planned a case response starting from March 26 in affected districts to prevent the virus from harming more children,” he said.

This was the first polio case in 2024 in the country and the first in Dera Bugti in nearly 13 years. Last year, six polio cases were reported in the country.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2024

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