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Nottinghamshire polio update after virus detected in sewage water

todayJune 23, 2022

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The local health body have urged parents to ensure their children are vaccinated after a virus has been detected in UK sewage water. Polio, which was officially eradicated in the UK in 2003, can cause paralysis in rare cases and can be life-threatening.

The UK Heath Security Agency (UKHSA), working with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has found polio in sewage samples collected from the London Beckton Sewage Treatment Works. While it is normal for the virus to be picked up as isolated cases and not detected again, experts have raised the alarm after several genetically-linked viruses were found in samples between February and May.

The UK is considered by the World Health Organization to be polio-free, with low-risk for polio transmission due to the high level of vaccine coverage across the population. However, vaccine coverage for childhood vaccines has decreased nationally so locally we are urging people to check they are up to date with their vaccines.

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Jonathan Gribbin, Director of Public Health at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Routine public health surveillance has found poliovirus in sewage samples collected from the London Beckton Sewage Treatment Works.

“While investigations are underway and although the current risk to the public in Nottinghamshire remains extremely low, it serves as a good reminder to parents of young children to ensure that their child’s vaccines are up to date. This is especially relevant for some children who may have missed an immunisation opportunity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Parents can check their child’s vaccination status in their Red Book and can contact their GP surgery to book a vaccination, should they or their child not be fully up to date.

“Childhood vaccinations are safe and effective and are the best protection against diseases like polio. Parents and carers are always encouraged to take up every vaccination offer from their child’s GP as soon as they are notified in order to protect against serious illness.”

Previously, the virus has been picked up when a person vaccinated overseas with the live oral polio vaccine (OPV) returned or travelled to the UK and briefly shed traces of the vaccine-like poliovirus in their faeces. However, the virus in the recent samples has evolved in England and is now classified as a ‘vaccine-derived’ poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2)

The UKHSA is working on the theory that a person vaccinated abroad with the polio vaccine – possibly in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Nigeria – entered the UK early in 2022 and was shedding the virus. Experts are looking at the possibility that just one family or extended family may be affected, though it is unclear how many people need to be infected for polio to be detected in sewage samples.

The UKHSA stressed that the virus has only been detected in sewage samples and no cases of paralysis have been reported. It is now investigating the extent of community transmission and has established a “national incident” to check for cases elsewhere as a precaution.

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Written by: thehitnetwork

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