Polio virus found in Egypt linked to Pakistan

January 21, 2013

Pakistani health officials Monday called for infants leaving the country to be issued polio vaccinations at airports after virus samples linked to a southern Pakistani city were discovered in Egypt.

Two sewage samples from Cairo were analysed and found to resemble a recently discovered strain in the Pakistani city of Sukkur, a joint statement by health officials, the (WHO) and UNICEF said.

"To reduce the possibility of spread of the polio virus beyond Pakistan's borders, the government's Monitoring and Coordination Cell is advising to set up permanent vaccination counters at the international departure lounges of all airports," it said.

The statement recommended that "all children under five years leaving the country are vaccinated against the polio virus."

Though Egypt has been polio-free since 2004, authorities there have ordered the immediate vaccination of all children under five years of age in the areas where the samples were found.

Polio cases in Pakistan have risen sharply in recent years, hitting 198 in 2011—the highest figure for more than a decade and the most of any country in the world, according to the WHO.

Unicef's acting chief of polio unit, Michael Coleman said the incident highlighted the importance of vaccination in Pakistan.

"It reinforces the urgent need of all caregivers across Pakistan to vaccinate children under five years of age against polio through the nearest health facility or through campaign vaccination teams," he said.

Shahnaz Wazir Ali, the prime minister's advisor on , termed the case "a stark reminder of the risks associated with active transmission in the country.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where the highly infectious crippling disease remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Earlier this month Pakistan provided paramilitary and police support to teams in the northwest after a series of attacks on .

UN agencies suspended work on a nationwide campaign to inoculate children against the highly infectious disease after nine health workers were murdered in a string of attacks in the northwest and Karachi in December last year.

Rumours about the vaccine being a plot to sterilise Muslims have long dogged efforts to tackle the disease in Pakistan.

Suspicion of vaccination programmes intensified after the jailing of a doctor who helped the CIA find Osama bin Laden in 2011 using a hepatitis campaign.

Related Stories

UN polio suspension hits 22,000 Pakistan children

August 2, 2012

Around 22,000 Pakistani children are at risk in Karachi after the World Health Organization suspended polio vaccinations over a spate of bloody shootings, a UN official warned Thursday.

Pakistan claims progress in tribal polio vaccination

September 4, 2012

Pakistan Tuesday claimed progress in vaccinating thousands of children against polio in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan which had been inaccessible due to unrest for about three years.

One million Pakistani children miss polio vaccination

October 17, 2012

Almost one million Pakistani children were left out of a polio vaccination drive which ended Wednesday, officials said, as unrest and flooding limited access and some parents viewed the campaign as a Western "conspiracy".

Fall in polio vaccination refusal cases in Pakistan

October 22, 2012

Pakistan has witnessed a sharp drop in the number of families refusing to get their children vaccinated against polio, officials said Monday, while lamenting that nearly half a million children were left unvaccinated.

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.