Health authorities in the United Kingdom announced on Wednesday the detection of the virus that causes polio in various samples taken from London sewers. This disease was considered eradicated in the United Kingdom since 2003.
Evidence of the virus that causes poliomyelitis has been detected in wastewater samples in the British capital. This is the first sign since the 1980s that the virus could be spreading. However, so far no contagion has been confirmed, according to the authorities.
The British Health Security Agency (UKHSA, for its acronym in English) reported that samples of several genetically related polioviruses have been found between February and June at the Beckton sewage plant, which serves about four million people. in the north and east of the city.
The UKHSA also stressed that the majority of the population is protected against the disease. However, it is estimated that around 14% of Londoners do not have the first three necessary doses of the vaccine.
WHO urges implementation of vaccination
Isolated cases of the virus had already been detected in the past in wastewater from people who had received an oral polio vaccine in other countries and who may have left behind a weakened version of the pathogen.
The British health agency believes that the virus could have reached the United Kingdom earlier this year through a person vaccinated abroad, possibly in the countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan or Nigeria.
The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, spoke on the matter and said that the body was working together with the United Kingdom.
“Surveillance, vaccination and investment to end polio are critical, as the UK announcement about environmental samples of polio identified in London sewage reminds us. No children have been infected so far.”
A disease thought to be eradicated
Polio, the deadly viral disease that became the leading cause of paralysis in large numbers of children around the world, is on the verge of being eradicated according to UNICEF. Since 1988, the number of children with polio has decreased by 99%.
However, thousands of children remain unvaccinated against the disease in some parts of the world.
One of the interruptions in the vaccination campaigns has been due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to the fact that many of the children live in isolated, fragile and conflict-affected areas. Therefore, UNICEF has indicated that it is still difficult to reach children to provide them with vaccines.
What is polio?
Polio or polio is a viral disease that can affect the spinal cord causing muscle weakness and paralysis.
Infection among babies and young children is more common and occurs in spaces with poor hygiene. Paralysis is a symptom that appears when the infection occurs in older people.
In most cases, poliovirus infection is asymptomatic and in up to 25% of cases it can cause fever, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain. While less than 4% may present signs and symptoms such as neck stiffness.
With EFE and Reuters
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