UK public health officials announce national polio virus incident | polio

Public health officials have announced a national incident after routine monitoring of wastewater in north and east London uncovered evidence of community-transmitted poliovirus.

The UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said waste from Beckton’s Newham treatment plants tested positive for poliovirus produced by vaccines in February and that additional positive samples have been found since then.

No cases of disease or paralysis have been reported and the risk to the general public is considered low, but public health officials have urged people to make sure they and their families have kept up with polio vaccinations to reduce the risk of injury. .

“Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, especially in communities where vaccine uptake is lower,” said Dr. Vanessa Saliba, a consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA. “In rare cases, 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 vaccines, it is important to contact your doctor to catch up or not. you are sure to check your red book.

“The majority of the UK population will be protected from childhood vaccination, but in some low-vaccine communities people may remain at risk,” she added.

Wastewater tests in the UK usually detect a handful of unrelated polioviruses each year. They come from people who have been given an oral polio vaccine in another country and then travel to the United Kingdom. People who have been given the oral vaccine can pass the attenuated live virus used in the vaccine into their faeces for several weeks.

The London trials, discovered in February, were alarming because they were interconnected and contained mutations that suggested the virus was evolving as it spread from person to person.

The outbreak is thought to have been caused by a man who returned to the UK after receiving an oral polio vaccine and spreading it locally. It is not clear how widespread the virus is, but it may be limited to one household or extended family.

The poliovirus can be spread through poor hand hygiene and contaminated food and water, or less frequently through coughing and sneezing. A common route of transmission is for people to get their hands dirty after using the toilet and then transmit the virus by touching food consumed by others.

While the UK as a whole has a good absorption of the polio vaccine, with 95% of five-year-olds receiving the injection, coverage is lagging behind in London, with only 91.2% of children vaccinated in this age group. In response to the discovery of the virus, the NHS will contact the parents of children who are not up to date with their polio vaccinations.

Most people who become infected with polio have no symptoms, but some develop a flu-like illness up to three weeks later. Between one in 100 and one in 1,000 infections, the virus attacks the nerves in the spine and the base of the brain, which can lead to paralysis, most commonly in the legs. In rare cases, the virus attacks the muscles used to breathe, which can be fatal.

The United Kingdom switched from the use of oral polio vaccine (OPV) to inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) given by injection in 2004. Vaccines are given with routine vaccines for NHS children at eight, 12 and 16 weeks as part of 6- vaccine in 1. Boosters are available at three and 14 years.

UKHSA is now analyzing samples of wastewater from local areas that are fed to the Beckton plant to narrow down where the virus is spreading. If these tests determine the center of the outbreak, public health teams may offer polio vaccination to those at risk.

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Professor Nicholas Grassley, head of the Vaccine Epidemiology Research Group at Imperial College London, said: routine wastewater testing. .

“In this case, there are fears that the virus could circulate locally in London and spread more widely. Fortunately, so far no one has developed symptoms of the disease, which affects only about 1 in 200 people infected, but it is important that children are fully up to date with their polio vaccines. Until polio is eradicated worldwide, we will continue to face this threat of infectious disease. “

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