Polio Virus Detected in Nine Samples Across Pakistan

Pakistan is facing a serious challenge in its efforts to eradicate polio, as nine environmental samples collected from five cities in October have tested positive for the virus, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Islamabad.

The samples were collected from sewage sites in Karachi, Chaman, Peshawar, Kohat and Nowshera, and confirmed the presence of Type-1 Wild Poliovirus (WPV1), which can cause paralysis and death in children.

Four of the positive samples were from Karachi, two from Chaman, and one each from Peshawar, Kohat and Nowshera. The samples were genetically linked to previous cases of polio virus detected in other parts of the country and in Afghanistan.

The NIH said that the detection of polio virus in the environment indicates that the virus is circulating in the community and poses a high risk of infection to unvaccinated children.

The new detections bring the total number of positive environmental samples in Pakistan in 2023 to 64. However, the number of human polio cases in Pakistan in 2023 remains four, as no new case has been reported since July.

Pakistan is one of the only two countries in the world, along with Afghanistan, where polio is still endemic. The country has been struggling to eradicate the disease for decades, facing challenges such as insecurity, misinformation, vaccine refusal and inadequate health infrastructure.

The government and its partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), have been conducting regular vaccination campaigns to immunize children against polio and other preventable diseases.

The NIH urged parents and caregivers to ensure that their children receive polio drops during every campaign.

The NIH also appealed to the public to cooperate with the health workers and support staff who are working tirelessly to protect the children from polio and other diseases.

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