Islamabad, November 10, 2023 – A 31-month-old child has been paralyzed by wild poliovirus in Karachi East.

The Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio Eradication at NIH has notified that the child had onset of paralysis on October 15 and stool samples taken from him tested positive for wild poliovirus, bringing the number of polio cases in Pakistan this year to five.

“The child belongs to UC Gujro and is the second child affected by the virus in the same UC of Karachi East this year,” said Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan, adding that the first three cases of the year were also reported from one UC of Bannu.

Dr Jan said: “Polio is an opportunistic virus, and it affects the most vulnerable children, particularly in areas where health services, sanitation, nutrition and vaccination rates remain suboptimal. We are working closely with our development partners to improve the conditions in these high-risk areas to keep our children protected from this debilitating disease.”

Federal Secretary for Health Iftikhar Ali Shallwani said: “I am deeply saddened that Pakistani children continue to be at risk from this disease, which has been wiped out from most of the world. Vaccines are the most effective protection against polio. All parents and caregivers must ensure that their children are consistently vaccinated against polio.”

Dr Shahzad Baig, the Coordinator of the National Emergency Center for Polio Eradication, said Karachi is a high priority area for the Polio Programme since it has been a core reservoir for the virus in the past and is home to widespread movement of people, from within and outside the country.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation of this case, looking at the social setup, epidemiology and immunity rates to identify where the virus originated from and where we might be missing populations that might not have been vaccinated,” he added.

Pakistan has now reported five polio cases this year – two from Karachi and three from Bannu. Last year, 20 cases were reported from the country, all of them from the endemic districts of southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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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