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25th June 2022 (8 Topics)

Polio virus in sewage sample in UK


Vaccine-derived poliovirus has been detected in sewage samples from the London Beckton Sewage Treatment Works in the eastern part of the British capital.


  • The virus has continued to evolve and is now classified as a ‘vaccine-derived’ poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2), which on rare occasions can cause serious illness, such as paralysis, in people who are not fully vaccinated.
  • The virus may have spread between closely linked individuals, who were administered an oral polio vaccine overseas.
  • The UK last reported a case of wild poliovirus in 1984 and the country was declared polio-free by 2003.
  • The UK offers an injected, inactivated poliovirus vaccine, which is not shed in faeces. However, several countries continue to offer the oral vaccine, which has a mild form of the virus that can be found in faeces and can thus be detected in the sewage system.

Recent detections:

  • Wild poliovirus is endemic only in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • The detection of vaccine-derived poliovirus is not rare. A case was reported from Israel in March, 2022, in a three-year-old unvaccinated child. 
  • Malawi recorded Africa’s first wild poliovirus case in five years in February 2022.
  • One case of VDPV-type 1 was detected from an environmental sewage sample collected from Kolkata in April, 2022.

What is Polio?

  • Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus.
  • The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord; causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body).
  • It can spread easily from person to person.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) aim is to eradicate polio completely and, if this happens, it will be only the third disease to have been beaten in this way, after smallpox and rinderpest.

Prevention & Treatment:

  • There are two vaccines available to fight polio:
  • inactivated poliovirus (IPV)
  • oral polio vaccine (OPV)
  • IPV consists of a series of injections that start 2 months after birth and continue until the child is 4 to 6 years old. The vaccine is made from inactive poliovirus. It is very safe and effective and cannot cause polio.
  • OPV is created from a weakened form of poliovirus. It is low cost, easy to administer, and gives an excellent level of immunity. However, in very rare cases, OPV has been known to revert to a dangerous form of poliovirus, which is able to cause paralysis.

Verifying, please be patient.

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