Polio strain discovery in Indian sewage prompts urgent vaccination effort


Discovery of a strain of polio in the sewage of the Indian city of Hyderabad has prompted an urgent effort to vaccinate as many as 300,000 children in a country that was declared polio-free just 2 years ago. 

Reuters reports that India's health ministry confirmed a strain of the highly contagious virus was found in a sewage sample near a railway station in the southern city home to tech and drug firms.

The World Health Organization named India as polio-free in 2014 and lauded the country for an aggressive and widespread public health campaign that reached remote villages as well as major urban centers.

No cases of polio have been reported after the discovery and the health ministry expressed confidence it could take proactive steps to ensure that remained the case

"India continues to be polio-free as the country has eradicated wild polio virus and the last case was seen on 13th January, 2011, and it is more than 5 years that no wild polio virus has been detected," the health ministry told Reuters in a statement.

However, "as a precautionary measure," the massive immunization drive would start next week in high-risk districts, Reuters reported.

The effort will see children get jabs of the Inactivated Polio Vaccine to provide additional protection against all types of polio, Reuters said.

In December of last year, India joined more than 110 countries to introduce injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) for government programs with Sanofi ($SNY) and its Indian affiliate, Shantha Biotechnics, supplying vaccines to the government via UNICEF.

Polio cases are still reported in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where efforts to vaccinate children sometimes run into opposition on religious grounds or from an inability to reach parts of both countries where armed strife is common.

- here's the story from Reuters

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