Polio virus detected in UK


People are being urged to make sure their polio vaccine is up to date after the virus was detected in UK sewage samples.

Polio, which was officially eradicated in the UK in 2003, can in rare cases cause paralysis and even death.

Polio has been found in sewage samples collected from the London Becton Sewage Treatment Works, in collaboration with the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA), Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), about 4 million in north and east London. Serves the people.

Although it is common for the virus to be picked up as isolated cases and not detected again, experts have sounded the alarm after finding several genetically linked viruses in samples between February and May.

Earlier, the virus was detected when a person returned from vaccinating abroad with the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) directly or went to the UK and briefly showed signs of the vaccine-like polio virus in his stool. ۔

However, in recent cases the virus has evolved in England and is now classified as a ‘vaccine-derived’ polio virus type 2 (VDPV2).

VDPV is a strain of the weakened poliovirus, initially included in the oral polio vaccine, which has changed over time and behaves like a “wild” or naturally occurring virus.

This means it can spread more easily to people who have not been vaccinated and who come in contact with an infected person’s stool or cough and sneeze.

The UKHSA is working on the idea that a person who had received the polio vaccine abroad – possibly in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Nigeria – entered the UK in early 2022 and was spreading the virus.

The man has now passed it on to other close associates in north-east London, who are spreading the virus in their feces as a result.

The vaccine-derived polio virus is rare and the risk to the general public is extremely low.

Experts are looking at the possibility that only one family or extended family may be affected, although it is not clear how many people need to be infected to detect polio in sewage samples.

The UKHSA emphasized that the virus was only found in sewage samples and that no cases of stroke had been reported.

It is now investigating the extent of the community transmission and has set up a “national event” to investigate cases elsewhere as a precaution.

Health Secretary Sajid Javed said he was “not particularly worried” about the identification of the polio virus.

He told BBC Radio 4KPM that the UKHSA “reminded me that as a country we have a very high rate of polio vaccination. We have been declared polio free since 2003 and this We have not had any cases since then.

The polio vaccine is given on the NHS when a child is eight, 12 and 16 weeks old as part of the 6-in-1 vaccine. It is three years and four months old as part of the 4-in-1 (DTaP / IPV) preschool booster, and 14 years old as part of the 3-in-1 (Td / IPV) teen age booster. It is given again in age.

All of these vaccines need to be given to a person to be fully vaccinated, although children who have been given two or three doses will have significant protection.

The majority of the UK population will be protected from childhood vaccinations, but people in some communities with low vaccine coverage may be at risk.

The latest figures show that around 95% of children in the UK have received the right amount of food by the age of two. However, this is only less than 90% in London.

When it comes to the preschool booster, only 71% of children in London have it by the age of five.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, Consultant Epidemiologist UKHSA, said:

“Vaccine-derived polio virus has the potential to spread, especially in communities where vaccine use is low.

“In rare cases it can cause paralysis in people who have not been fully vaccinated, so if you or your child are not up to date on your polio vaccine, it is important that you Contact your GP or, if unsure, check your red book.

“Most of the UK population will be vaccinated against childhood vaccines, but with low vaccine coverage in some communities, people may be at risk.

“We are urgently investigating to better understand the extent of this transmission and the NHS has been asked to report any suspicious cases to the UKHSA immediately, although no case has been reported or confirmed yet. Is.”

Most people who are infected with polio have no symptoms, but some suffer from mild flu-like problems such as high temperature, extreme fatigue, headaches, vomiting, neck stiffness and muscle aches.

In one in 100 to 1000 infections, the polio virus attacks the spinal cord and nerves of the brain.

It can cause paralysis, usually in the legs, which develops in hours or days.

Polio can be fatal if the respiratory muscles are affected.

Doctors have now been alerted by the UKHSA to look for signs of polio paralysis.

If people experience severe weakness in any of the limbs, which will flop, or have difficulty breathing, immediate medical attention should be sought.

The last case of natural polio infection in the UK was reported in 1984.

The UK discontinued the use of live oral polio vaccine (OPV) in 2004 and switched to inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).