British health officials issued a warning after traces of poliovirus, declared eradicated from the United Kingdom in 2003, were found in London’s sewers.
The UK Health and Safety Agency (UKHSA) reported that the virus was detected in samples taken from February to June at the Beckton Sewerage Authority, which serves approximately 4 million people in the northeastern part of the capital.
According to UKHSA, the detection of this poliovirus “suggests that there is likely some spread between closely related individuals in northern and eastern London.” Found in the sewer.
So far, it is “normal” to detect 1 to 3 cases per year, especially for people vaccinated abroad with an oral vaccine made of a live virus that can leave traces in the faeces. did.
However, this evidence indicates the existence of a virus that continues to evolve and is now classified as a “vaccine-derived type 2 poliovirus,” which can cause serious symptoms such as paralysis in unvaccinated people. there is.
According to officials, the majority of the population was immunized from the disease in childhood, but people are advised to refer to the newsletter to renew their vaccines because of the low levels of vaccination and the high risk of infection in some areas. Prompted to.
According to the BBC, in London, only 86% of residents receive three doses, compared to more than 92% of the rest of the UK.
Health agencies believe that the virus may have reached the UK earlier this year from a person vaccinated abroad, perhaps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Nigeria, who may have infected others. increase.
UKHSA urged physicians and healthcare professionals to “extensively investigate and report cases of suspected acute flaccid paralysis” that cannot be explained by non-communicable causes.
It also confirms that patients have been vaccinated with polio and requires health centers to “focus” on the immunity of “new immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees.”
Polio is an incurable infection that affects children under the age of five and can only be prevented with a vaccine.
In some cases, it can cause paralysis of the limbs.
The virus spreads easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread to food and water that come in contact with the feces of infected individuals.
The last case of polio in the United Kingdom was recorded in 1984, and the virus was declared eradicated in the United Kingdom in 2003.
Despite being eliminated in most parts of the world thanks to large-scale vaccination programs, poliovirus continues to be predominantly present in Afghanistan and Pakistan.