Polio is spreading in the UK for the first time in decades, officials claim. Health bosses urged Brits to check their children’s jabs are up to date after picking up signs of the virus being passed between individuals.
According to TheSun, Experts have detected the same bug in London sewage samples since April – a clear signal of a community outbreak. No cases have yet been confirmed in the UK and the UKHSA said samples were found in East and North London. These chiefs say ‘suggests it is likely there has been some spread between closely-linked individuals’. Because of this, they said these cases could be shedding the virus strain in their feces.
Investigations are currently ongoing and there have not yet been any cases of paralysis reported. Medics today said that the emergence of polio in the UK reminds us that it has not yet been eradicated. The last case of polio being contracted in Britain was in 1984 and the country was declared polio-free in 2003.
Before a vaccine was introduced in the 1950s, epidemics would result in thousands of people being paralyzed annually and hundreds of deaths. UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) experts believe a traveler – likely from Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Nigeria – shed the virus in their stools after being given the oral polio inoculation.
“Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, particularly in communities where vaccine uptake is lower. On rare occasions it can cause paralysis in people who are not fully vaccinated so if you or your child are not up to date with your polio vaccinations it’s important you contact your GP to catch up or, if unsure, check your red book.
“Most of the UK population will be protected from vaccination in childhood, but in some communities with low vaccine coverage, individuals may remain at risk.
“We are urgently investigating to better understand the extent of this transmission and the NHS has been asked to swiftly report any suspected cases to the UKHSA, though no cases have been reported or confirmed so far.”
According to Sky News, The virus presents a risk to anyone who has not been vaccinated, especially children and young adults. The national uptake of the childhood polio vaccine is high but in London, rates are much lower.
The primary polio vaccine course is given to babies at two, three, and four months. Three doses are needed to complete the primary course. In the UK it is given as part of the six-in-one vaccine. In the UK, by the time children reach the age of two, almost 95% of them will have had that course of three vaccines. In London, where this virus has been detected, the number falls to just below 90%.
In the last five to 10 years health officials say they have seen a slow and steady decline in the uptake of the childhood vaccination program. Vaccine coverage for the preschool booster, which is offered to children when they turn three, is 71% in London. It is about the same figure for teenage boosters offered to children in school year nine.