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.

Explore further: Pakistan resumes polio vaccines under tight security

Related Stories

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.

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.

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".

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.

Recommended for you

Zika virus infection alters human and viral RNA

October 20, 2016

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that Zika virus infection leads to modifications of both viral and human genetic material. These modifications—chemical tags known as ...

Food-poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn's disease

October 19, 2016

People who retain a particular bacterium in their gut after a bout of food poisoning may be at an increased risk of developing Crohn's disease later in life, according to a new study led by researchers at McMaster University.

Neurodevelopmental model of Zika may provide rapid answers

October 19, 2016

A newly published study from researchers working in collaboration with the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia demonstrates fetal death and brain damage in early chick embryos similar to microcephaly—a ...

Scientists uncover new facets of Zika-related birth defects

October 17, 2016

In a study that could one day help eliminate the tragic birth defects caused by Zika virus, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have elucidated how the virus attacks the brains of newborns, ...

Ebola drug ZMapp may help, but is not a miracle cure

October 13, 2016

ZMapp, once touted as a miraculous "secret serum" against the deadly Ebola virus, has shown some success but fell short of the bar for effectiveness in a clinical trial, researchers said Wednesday.


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.