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Poliovirus detected in Lahore sample among 37

positive test indicated mass movement across the country, Dr Baig

ISLAMABAD: The current year’s first environmental sample collected from 37 cities has tested polio positive for Lahore. Samples from other cities were polio free. Lahore is country’s second largest city. The incidence of polio traces has prompted the authorities to start a vaccination campaign in 26 union councils

The National Institute of Health (NIH) in its statement has confirmed the detection of Type-1 Wild Poliovirus (WPV1) in an environmental sample collected from District Lahore (Gulshan Ravi ES site) in January 2023.

The statement added “This is the first positive environmental sample from Pakistan this year. Last year 37 samples tested positive from all over the country”.

Dr Shahzad Baig, the Head of Pakistan’s Polio Eradication Program lauds it as a ‘big achievement’. Speaking to Dawn news he said a number of cities like Bannu, D.I.Khan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Qilla Abdullah, Quetta, Karachi and Southern KP region  that had previously reported positive samples over the years are found negative this time in year start.

He added that Lahore’s environmental sample was found positive three times during 2022, but it was found negative in December. He added only one sample from Lahore was found positive and as per protocols a decision has been made to start a campaign in 26 UCs whose sewage falls into the area.

Dr Baig says the positive test indicated mass movement across the country.

Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel has said the year’s first polio campaign was going on successfully.

“We are determined to eradicate the virus from the country,” he said as he requested parents to cooperate with the polio teams.

The sewage samples are important in detecting the virus’ prevalence in the country. If the virus is found in samples collected from any area, it is called positive. These samples are a basic parameter to determine the success of polio campaigns.

The presence of poliovirus in sewage also shows low immunity in children and they are at risk of contracting to catch the virus.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where the virus was still endemic.

In 2022, 20 children were paralysed by the virus in the country — all of them belong to the southern districts of KP. Of the 20, 17 were from North Waziristan, two from Lakki Marwat and one from South Waziristan.

Before cases were reported in 2022, Pakistan went without reporting a single case for almost 15 months.

Zahra Sikandar
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