Islamabad – December 1, 2023 – Twenty environmental samples collected from 12 districts have tested positive for wild poliovirus type 1.

The Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio Eradication at the National Institute of Health has notified that the virus was isolated from four sewage samples from Peshawar, three from Karachi East, two from Karachi Keamari, two from Chaman, two from Quetta and one each from Pishin, Karachi Central, Karachi South, Hyderabad, Jamshoro, Kohat and Bannu. These samples were collected during the period from November 1 to November 15.

“The presence of poliovirus in environmental samples is a cause of concern for us because it means children, especially those under five years of age, are at an enhanced risk from this paralysis-causing disease,” said Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan.

Urging parents to ensure that their children are repeatedly vaccinated against polio, Dr Jan said: “Our frontline vaccinators are going door to door this week during a nationwide polio campaign to vaccinate over 44 million children. I request parents to understand the urgency of the situation and make sure that when vaccinators arrive at your door, you bring every child under five out to receive this life-saving vaccine.”

Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, Dr Shahzad Baig, said that while concerning, the continuous detection of wild poliovirus in the environment is also highlighting that the polio surveillance system in the country is working efficiently.

“In every district of virus detection, we have planned a swift response to find and vaccinate the populations that might be infected,” said Dr Baig. “But we didn’t just stop there. We are conducting the third nationwide vaccination campaign of this year to make sure that all children are reached with the vaccine so that they remain protected.”

The third nationwide polio campaign began on November 27 and is being held until the first week of December.  

Pakistan has so far reported six polio cases and 84 positive environmental samples this year.

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, except for the two endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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