ISLAMABAD, 01 JUNE 2022 – A seven-month-old girl was confirmed to be paralyzed by wild polio on Wednesday.

This is the seventh wild polio case in Pakistan this year and the sixth in Mir Ali, North Waziristan. The child had an onset of paralysis on 2 May.

“The outbreak in North Waziristan appears to be following the same pattern as that witnessed in 2014 and 2019 when there was a surge in cases in the same area. We are working tirelessly to ensure that we break this pattern,” said Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel.

The southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, namely North and South Waziristan, DI Khan, Bannu, Tank and Lakki Marwat, are at highest risk of wild poliovirus. Bannu also reported two positive environmental samples between April and May this year, confirming that ongoing wild poliovirus transmission is not limited to North Waziristan.

“These cases are happening in the same part of the country but parents and caregivers around Pakistan must remain extremely vigilant and give their children repeated doses of the polio vaccine,” said Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel.

According to preliminary investigations, the child had been paralyzed in both lower limbs and left arm.

“We are administering the polio vaccine to children up to the age of 10 at all entry and exit points from southern KP to stop the spread of the virus,” said National Emergency Operations Coordinator Dr. Shahzad Baig. 

All children confirmed with wild polio this year belong to North Waziristan, where more cases are expected due to high refusal rates and instances of finger-marking without vaccination during campaigns. With this new case, the global count for wild polio in 2022 has reached eight from the endemic countries, with one case reported from Afghanistan in January.                       

Note for the Editor:

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by poliovirus mainly affecting children under the age of five years. It invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or even death. While there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the most effective way to protect children from this crippling disease. Each time a child under the age of five is vaccinated, their protection against the virus is increased. Repeated immunisations have protected millions of children from polio, allowing almost all countries in the world to become polio-free, besides the two endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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