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Children in London given polio booster injections after virus was detected in sewage samples

Children in London given polio booster injections after virus was detected in sewage samples

The last case of polio in the UK, which can cause paralysis, was in 1984. (Representative)

London:

About a million children in London will be vaccinated against polio after the virus was detected in sewage samples across the capital, health officials say.

A Department of Health statement said: “Following the discovery of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 in wastewater in north and east London,” a targeted booster will be introduced. Offered to children aged one to nine years.

There are no confirmed cases of the disease yet, but it has been detected at an increasing number of wastewater treatment plants across the capital. It was first discovered at a treatment facility in east London earlier this year.

The levels detected indicate “there is some degree of virus transmission in these counties that could extend to neighboring areas,” the statement said.

The last case of polio in the UK, which can cause paralysis, was in 1984.

The wild version of the virus currently exists only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but a vaccine containing small amounts of live but attenuated polio still causes frequent outbreaks elsewhere.

Oral polio vaccine (OPV) replicates in the intestine and can be passed to others through fecal-contaminated water. So even though it won’t hurt a vaccinated child, it can infect their neighbors in places with low levels of hygiene and vaccinations.

Although weaker than wild poliovirus, this variant can cause severe illness and paralysis in people who are not vaccinated against the disease.

Polio elimination expert Kathlene O’Reilly said: Findings in sewage samples in London suggest “possibly local spread of the polio virus.”

That’s most likely in people who aren’t up to date on their polio vaccinations, she added.

According to the WHO, the polio vaccination rate in London is nearly 87%, lower than the rest of the country.

“For the majority of the population, who are fully vaccinated, the risk is low,” said Vanessa Saliba, an epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Service.

“But we know the areas in London where the polio virus is being transmitted have the lowest vaccination rates.

“This is why the virus is spreading in these communities and putting residents who are not fully vaccinated at higher risk,” she added.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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