KARACHI, Nov 28: The 18-month-old boy suffering from polio and living in Liaquatabad town acquired the virus from during a visit to relatives in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, not Karachi, Dawn learnt on Wednesday.
Sources in the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that after observing the genome sequence of the virus, the authorities were convinced that the polio case belonged to Mardan and not Karachi.
“Though the child is a resident of Liaqatabad’s union council 11, in view of the findings of WHO it would now be counted in the tally of Mardan,” said the source.
“Two polio cases have already been reported in Mardan while no cases have been reported from Karachi this year. The number of polio cases in Sindh remains at four.”
The senior polio coordinator for WHO said that the polio eradication initiative confirmed that 18-month-old Suleman, son of Abdur Rehman, was the 55th polio case reported all across Pakistan till Nov 21 this year. He said that the genomic sequence of the Karachi/Mardan case showed that the virus was from Khyber Pakhtunkwa and matched viruses from Charsada and Bajaur closely.
The local health officials said that little Suleman had acquired the virus during a visit to relatives in Babuzai Katlang in Mardan.
When he developed symptoms of polio he was referred to the Mardan Medical Complex Hospital where his samples were collected.
Meanwhile, following the emergence of the year’s first polio case in Karachi around a week ago, the health department is taking steps to contain the spread of the polio virus in Liaquatabad’s union council 11, the area where the case was reported.
Polio was detected in Suleman who is a resident of Nital Colony, Nazimabad, and the health department confirmed this on Nov 21. The child, described by the health department as a serious refusal case, was the first polio case this year to be reported in Karachi and the fifth in Sindh.
Talking to Dawn on Wednesday, the district health officer (preventive), Dr Aslam Pervez, said that after the polio case was detected, health officers were asked to take all possible steps to contain the transmission of polio virus in children living in the vicinity of Nital Colony.
He said that the purpose of the ongoing drive was to reach children who couldn’t be vaccinated, or whose parents refused vaccination, in the last national immunisation drive. Meanwhile, added Dr Pervez, the health officers would continue to sweep through the children living in the area for the next three days.
The health officer for Liaquatabad town, Dr Aziz Baloch, told Dawn that since Monday vaccination teams have been able to reach 62 children whose parents had refused vaccination and another 38 children who had been unavailable during the last anti-polio campaign. He said that all these children were given polio drops, except one family who adamantly refused the polio vaccine.
When asked about the family of the child suffering from polio, Dr Baloch said that earlier Suleman’s father had refused the vaccine on religious grounds. But this time, he said, the father was asking other parents to get their children vaccinated and cooperate with the immunisation teams.
Dr Baloch said that since another anti-polio drive would be held in December, the vaccinators were asked not to vaccinate all the children in the affected union council but reach only those living in nearby households to prevent the virus from spreading.