October 2, 2022

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Nearly a million children in London provided polio treatments after the virus was discovered in sewage

Nearly a million children in London provided polio treatments after the virus was discovered in sewage

The British Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization said a targeted booster dose of inactivated polio vaccine should be offered to all children aged 1-9 in all London boroughs.

“This will ensure a high level of protection from paralysis and help limit the spread of the virus further,” the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said in a statement announcing the move.

About 1 million children of this age live in the London area, according to the latest data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics.

The UK Health Services Authority (UKHSA) said a total of 116 virus isolates were identified in 19 wastewater samples collected in London between February and July.

While most samples contained a vaccine-like virus, some showed “sufficient mutations to be classified as a vaccine-derived poliovirus”. The UKHSA said this was all the more worrisome because such a virus behaves more like “wild polio and may in rare cases lead to paralysis in unvaccinated individuals”.

The authorities emphasized that the vaccination campaign is a precautionary measure.

Dr. said. said Vanessa Saliba, a consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA.

Vaccines are essential because there is no cure for polio

poliomyelitis It is caused by an enterovirus called poliovirus. It was one of the world’s most terrifying diseases until Dr. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine and tested its safety in 1954.

By 1988, reported cases of polio worldwide had peaked at 350,000, according to the World Health Organization.

About 1 in 4 people with it develop flu-like symptoms including sore throat, fever, fatigue, nausea, headache, and stomach aches. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 1 in 200 will develop more serious symptoms that include tingling and numbness in the legs, inflammation of the brain or spinal cord, and paralysis.

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There is no cure for polio. Treatment for symptoms may include medications to relax the muscles, heat, and physical therapy to stimulate the muscles. However, any paralysis caused by polio is permanent.

The last case of polio in the UK was in 1984, according to a UKHSA statement.

“Decades before the introduction of the polio vaccination program, about 8,000 people were paralyzed each year,” Saliba added.

There are three strains of the virus, two of which have been eradicated from the world, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a program of the World Health Organization. A species of wild poliovirus is still circulating in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Transmission can also occur when not enough children in an area are vaccinated.

Last month, someone from Rockland County, New York, was diagnosed With polio, the first case identified in the United States in nearly a decade. County Health Commissioner Dr. Patricia Schnabel-Robert said the unvaccinated young adult was beginning to experience weakness and paralysis.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Benjamin Brown, Molly Stazker, Zahid Mahmoud and Brenda Goodman contributed to the report.