Traces of the polio virus were found during a routine inspection of a sewer in London, prompting the UK Health Agency to declare it a national event.
Health officials are now concerned about the spread of the virus to the community after samples were taken from the Bacon sewer in London, but said the risk to the community was very low.
Several samples of polio virus were found in sewage samples taken in February and May. It is evolving and is now classified as a “vaccine” of type 2 (VDPV2) poliovirus.
Officials believe there was some kind of outbreak between people in close contact in north-east London, possibly members of a large family, who are now shedding strains of the type 2 polio virus.
Urgent investigations attempt to determine the extent to which a community is spreading and where it may be located.
The main blow to the diagnosis of polio in London – analysis
The eradication of polio almost all over the world is one of the most difficult public health achievements of the last century.
So the discovery of traces of the virus in London was a big blow.
Of course, children and young people in the UK are less at risk. Children are routinely vaccinated against the virus, so it is less likely to spread.
Although it has spread to a minority of unvaccinated people, we hope that a strong public health response will quickly control it.
However, the fact that polio can be observed even in a country with a developed health care system and a good level of vaccine coverage warns that there is a chance of recovery until polio is completely eradicated.
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What is polio, have people been vaccinated against it in the UK, and what are the risks to society?
Dr. Vanessa Saliba, an epidemiologist at UKHSA, said: “Poliovirus obtained from vaccines is rare and the risk to the general public is very low.
“Vaccine-borne polio virus can spread, especially in less vaccinated communities. In rare cases, it can cause paralysis in people who have not been fully vaccinated, so if you or your child is not updated with your polio vaccine, it is important that you contact your GP or , check your red book.
“Most people in the UK are protected from childhood vaccinations, but in some communities where vaccine coverage is low, people may be at risk.
“We are urgently investigating to better understand the scale of this transmission and have asked the NHS to report suspicious cases to the UKHSA immediately, but no cases have been reported or confirmed so far.”
The virus can be transmitted by a person who has been vaccinated against polio in a country that has not yet been eradicated, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan or Nigeria.
So far, the virus has been found only in wastewater samples and no paralysis has been reported.
It is normal for one to three “vaccine-like” polioviruses to be detected in British wastewater samples each year, but these are always unrelated, one-time findings and then disappear.
This is the first time the same virus has been detected several months apart since its last outbreak in 1984.
These previous findings were made when a person vaccinated with live oral polio vaccine (OPV) abroad returned or traveled to the United Kingdom and briefly “spilled” traces of the vaccine-like poliovirus in their feces.
The virus poses a threat to anyone who has not been vaccinated, especially children and young people. National adoption of the polio vaccine for children is high, but in London it is much lower.
The main course of polio vaccination is given to children at two, three and four months of age. You will need three doses to complete the main course. In the UK, it is given as part of one in six vaccines. In the UK, almost 95% of children are vaccinated when they are two years old. Their number is slightly lower than 90% in London where the virus has been detected.
Over the past 5 to 10 years, health workers report a slow and steady decline in the number of children receiving immunizations. Vaccine coverage for preschool children recommended for children over the age of three is 71% in London. This is the same rate as for adolescents recommended for children in the ninth school year.
Jane Clegg, chief nurse of the NHS in London, said: “Most Londoners are completely protected from polio and no further action is needed, but the NHS is starting to contact parents of children under the age of five in London. Polio vaccines do not call for protection.
“At the same time, parents can check their children’s vaccination status from the red book, and people should refer to their GP practice to be vaccinated if they or their child is not completely renewed.”
The polio virus infects the spinal cord and nerves at the base of the brain, leading to paralysis and, in severe cases, life-threatening.
However, most people with polio show no symptoms and fight the infection without knowing it. Few people start three to 21 days after contracting a flu-like illness.
It is easily transmitted from person to person, especially through the fecal-oral route, when an infected person does not wash their hands properly after using the toilet, and then touches food / water eaten by others – and often coughs and sneezes. . The virus multiplies in the gut, and a large number of viruses are released on the faces of infected people.
The Bekton London Sewerage Company has an area of more than four million people and this is a serious problem for healthcare professionals.
If more samples of the virus are detected, the state of emergency may be taken to the next level, where targeted interventions, including small-batch vaccinations and collection of feces samples from areas where the polio virus is found, will be considered.