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Polio Virus Detected In London Sewage Samples: Infection Risk Is Low

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(CTN News) – London sewage samples have been found to contain a type of polio virus derived from vaccines, according to the World Health Organization and British health officials.

Polio has not been found in Britain since the disease was eradicated two decades ago.

On Wednesday, the WHO reported that environmental samples in the British capital contained “type 2 vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV2)”.

“The virus has been isolated only from environmental samples,” it said, adding that “no associated paralysis cases have been reported.”

“Any form of polio virus anywhere is a threat to children everywhere,” the report stated.

‘Check vaccination histories’

Over the past decades, a massive global effort has come close to eliminating polio, a crippling and potentially fatal viral disease mostly affecting children under the age of five.

The number of cases has decreased by 99 percent since 1988, when polio was endemic in 125 countries and 350,000 cases had been reported.

Although polio in its wild form now only exists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a vaccine containing small amounts of the weakened but live virus still causes outbreaks elsewhere.

Although weaker than the wild polio virus, this variant can cause serious illness and paralysis if unvaccinated.

Kathlene O’Reilly, an expert on polio eradication in London, warned on Wednesday that “there may be localised spread of polio virus, most likely among individuals who aren’t immunized against it”.

“The most effective way to prevent further spread is to check vaccination histories, especially for young children, to ensure that polio vaccination has been administered.”

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