Islamabad, December 15, 2023 – Two sewage samples collected from Quetta have tested positive for wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1), bringing the total number of positive samples this year to 92.

WPV1 was isolated from two environmental samples collected from two separate sites on November 27, the Regional Reference Laboratory for Polio Eradication at NIH notified.

Both samples contained the imported virus cluster, which has been found in more than 90% of the sewage samples that have tested positive this year.

Federal Minister for Health Dr Nadeem Jan said: “Viruses move with people, and we are seeing an increased detection of this virus now with widespread population movement. Therefore, it is even more critical now to keep children’s immunity against this virus very high so that they can fight off any potential infections.”

The minister urged parents across the country to ensure that their children are vaccinated against polio at every opportunity and have also completed their routine vaccination courses for added protection from disease.

Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of National Emergency Operations Center for Polio Eradication, said “We have held several polio campaigns this year and have implemented a comprehensive plan to vaccinate populations that are moving to limit the spread of the virus.”

He added that the swift detections of the virus in the environment shows the efficiency of the Polio Programme’s polio surveillance system, which is the largest and most sensitive in the world.

This year, Pakistan has reported six polio cases and 92 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, except for the two endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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