4 out of 11 Pakistani children paralyzed by Polio, between July and Nov 2019, belong to Diamir district of Gilgit-Baltistan: WHO

ISLAMABAD: World Health Organization, an agency of the United Nations, has reported that between 7th of July and 3rd of November, 2019, 11 children were paralyzed by circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type-2 (cVDPV2) cVDPV2 in Pakistan.

Four of these children reportedly are from Diamir district of Gilgit-Baltistan, while six are from different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province. One case has also been confirmed in Islamabad, according to a “Disease Outbreak News” posted on WHO”s website.

“The median age for these cases was 22 months ranging from 8 to 66 months”, reports WHO.

“The virus was also isolated in stool samples from two contacts of one patient from Diamir, one contact of one patient from Torghar, as well as from 16 healthy children from Diamir, Kohistan and Rawalpindi districts. In addition, the virus was also isolated in seven environmental samples collected between 21 August and 25 October 2019 in Rawalpindi and Lahore districts, Punjab province; Diamir and Gilgit districts, Gilgit-Baltistan province; and Site Town, district West, Karachi, Sindh province.

The genetic sequencing confirmed that the VDPV2 isolated in the environmental samples collected at the Safdarabad site in Rawalpindi district in August was linked to a virus isolated in Diamir environmental samples collected in August and September. This is the indication of a circulating VDPV2 outbreak.

All VDPV2 strains were isolated in the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory for Polioviruses (RRL), National Institute of Health in Pakistan and had a full viral genomic sequencing in the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The VDPV2 isolates from acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases, contacts, and environmental samples have undergone 6 to 13 nucleotide changes reflecting a recent emergence of cVDPV2.”

WHO has classified Pakistan as “endemic for wild poliovirus, and as of 13 November, there have been 86 cases of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) reported in the country in 2019 compared to 12 cases in 2018.”

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