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Polio virus persists in Lahore, Rawalpindi

December 11, 2012

LAHORE, Dec 10: After Karachi, Peshawar and Hyderabad, two major cities of Punjab – Lahore and Rawalpindi -- have also turned ‘polio-endemic’ due to continuous detection of the wild poliovirus virus type-1 in the sewage samples collected from there.

The disturbing facts regarding persistence of the virus in the environment of Lahore and Rawalpindi were revealed in the report compiled by the World Health Organization, a copy of which is available with Dawn.

The statistics (from 2009 to Nov 2012) on the ‘status’ of wild poliovirus in major cities of the country, revealed that all efforts and strategies launched to counter the crippling disease in the country have failed as the virus persisted in the environment of these major cities.

The fresh sewage samples collected by the WHO experts on 12th Nov from two locations of the Punjab capital were again found positive for the wild poliovirus.

Except October, sewage samples collected from Lahore during the last nine months had been found positive for poliovirus when tested by the National Institute of Health, Islamabad.

In 2009, the WHO had dispatched 12 sewage samples collected from various localities of Lahore from July to December and the report declared only August samples positive for the wild poliovirus type 1.

In 2010, poliovirus was detected six times in various samples sent in September, Oct and November, showing a slight increase in it.

In 2011 the situation turned more serious when the authorities in Lahore were alerted after the virus was found in 17 samples collected by WHO experts from various localities. Every sample collected from July to December had been tested positive for the wild poliovirus type 1.

The threat still persists as is evident from the WHO report compiled till November 2012.

Rawalpindi remained the second major polio-endemic city of Punjab where all samples collected by WHO experts for six consecutive months (from July to Dec) in 2010 were found polio positive. Only the samples dispatched to NIH Islamabad in October were found negative for poliovirus. In 2011, samples were collected every month from the city and all except those collected in February were found containing the wild poliovirus.

The situation was not different for the city in 2012 as all the seven samples collected from January to October have been found positive for the virus.