Islamabad, June 8, 2024 – The fifth polio case of the year has been reported from Quetta, Balochistan.

The affected two-year-old child developed onset of paralysis on April 29 in his legs. He became progressively ill with weakness spreading to his arms, and unfortunately passed away in a hospital in Karachi a few weeks later.

According to the Regional Reference Laboratory at the National Institute of Health, samples taken from him, his brother and cousin who live in the same house confirmed the presence of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1). The virus isolated from the samples belongs to the imported YB3A cluster of WPV1.

“This case is a sad reminder that until we eradicate poliovirus, no child anywhere is safe from this terrible disease,” said Coordinator to the Prime Minister on National Health Services, Dr Malik Mukhtar Bharath.

He added that four of the five cases reported this year have been from Balochistan and the government is focusing its efforts on closing the outbreak and enhancing polio vaccine and routine vaccination coverage rates in the province to ensure strengthened immunity for children.

More than 50 environmental samples have tested positive for poliovirus this year in Balochistan, including 21 from Quetta alone.

Captain (Retd) Muhammad Anwarul Haq, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre for Polio Eradication, said that a detailed case investigation is being conducted to identify the origins of the virus that caused the infection and identify populations that may not have received the polio vaccine.  

“The Pakistan Polio Programme has faced challenges in implementing uninterrupted polio campaigns in Quetta block districts and Balochistan over the past few months due to law-and-order situation and local protests,” he said. “These campaign disruptions can have grave consequences for children’s immunity, especially in the constant presence of poliovirus.”

He added that the Polio Programme will continue to implement polio campaigns and other strategies to increase vaccination rates.

This is the fifth polio case reported from Pakistan in 2024 and the first from Quetta in four years. Last year, six polio cases were reported in the country.

Note for 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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