Islamabad, October 21, 2023 – Wild poliovirus has been detected in a 24-month-old child from Karachi.

The child, who belongs to UC Gujro from Karachi East, had onset of weakness on October 3, the Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health notified on Friday, bringing the number of polio cases this year to four.  

Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan said that it is incredibly unfortunate that another child has been paralyzed by a disease that is vaccine preventable.

“All children have a right to live a life free from the threat of poliovirus. I am devastated that this child will now suffer from a preventable disease,” he said, adding: “Polio has affected our children for too long. The government of Pakistan is dedicated to improving health and nutrition standards for all children to ensure that they are protected from opportunistic viruses like polio.”

Federal Health Secretary Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said: “Parents must understand the huge risk polio poses to their children’s wellbeing and ensure that they receive multiple doses of the oral polio vaccine and are up to date on their routine immunizations.”

Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, said: “The Polio Program’s surveillance network has been instrumental in the prompt detection of the virus in the country. A thorough case investigation is under way, and we will be planning more vaccination campaigns in the affected areas to enhance children’s immunity,” he said.

Separately, 11 sewage samples collected from seven districts this month have tested positive for wild poliovirus.

According to the Polio Lab, the virus was detected in four environmental samples collected from Peshawar, two from Karachi and one each from Pishin, Chaman, Quetta, Lahore and Bannu.

Virus isolated from 10 out of the 11 positive samples belongs to the YB3A virus cluster that is circulating in neighboring Afghanistan, while virus isolated from the sample from Bannu belongs to the YB3C cluster circulating in Pakistan, the lab stated.  

Pakistan has so far reported four polio cases and 54 positive environmental samples.

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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