Israel, New York, London... The resurgence of polio worries health authorities

Israel, New York, London… The resurgence of polio worries health authorities

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Virtually eradicated from the world, polio returns with a vengeance in 2022 (illustrative photo taken in February at a WHO vaccination center in Yemen).
Abdulnasser Alseddik/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images Virtually eradicated from the world, polio returns with a vengeance in 2022 (illustrative photo taken in February at a WHO vaccination center in Yemen).

Abdulnasser Alseddik/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Virtually eradicated from the world, polio returns with a vengeance in 2022 (illustrative photo taken in February at a WHO vaccination center in Yemen).

HEALTH – There were only six known cases in the world in 2021, but polio has not yet been completely eradicated. Worse still, in this summer of 2022, “polio” reappeared in various parts of the world, from Israel to New York. So much so that local health authorities are forced to take action in the face of this threat that weighs heavily on young children.

As a reminder, polio is an extremely contagious disease that invades the nervous system to the point of causing, in the worst cases, total paralysis in just a few hours. The virus enters the body when contaminated food or water is ingested and can cause death when paralysis affects the respiratory muscles.

A terrible disease that has been known for centuries, but that cannot be treated once it has managed to infect an individual. The only solution is prevention and therefore vaccination, which in the last thirty years has almost completely eradicated the infection in the world thanks to the efforts of national governments, NGOs and international organizations such as UNICEF and the WHO.

A first case since 1989 in Israel

While a plan has been set to defeat polio globally by 2026, the disease has made a remarkable comeback this year. For the first time in more than 30 years, it was in Israel that a case was detected in early March. It was a four-year-old boy who had not been vaccinated.

Although the disease has been eradicated in the country, the routine vaccination strategy has been gradually relaxed and some of the children have stopped receiving the two protective doses of the vaccine. From Jerusalem, where the first case was detected, and then gradually to the entire country, a national vaccination strategy was implemented in the spring.

“With the exception of one child” who was asymptomatic, Israeli authorities clarified that the other positive cases (nine in total) were not fully vaccinated. In addition, traces of the virus have been found in the sewers of several cities in the country, which led the health authorities to lead a response of such magnitude.

A case that came from abroad to the United States

More recently, on Thursday, July 21, it was the United States that in turn detected a case of paralytic poliomyelitis in the state of New York. Almost a decade had passed since the disease was detected in the country.

According to local health authorities, the person who became infected had been in contact with an individual who had received an oral vaccine that has not been used in the United States since 2000, which makes them say that he must come. from somewhere outside ” From the country. Indeed, this type of vaccine, if it protects the person who ingests it, can cause contamination in individuals in contact with it who are not protected. These contaminations, which do not make you sick, can allow the virus to mutate before infecting new people.

The contaminated young man went to the hospital after the paralysis of one of his legs and traces of the poliovirus were later found in several sewage samples before other positive cases were detected. For this reason, the health authorities have reiterated the need to be vaccinated.

Little Londoners urged to get vaccinated

Finally, in London, all children between the ages of 1 and 9 will be offered a booster vaccination against polio after the virus was detected in sewage in several areas of the capital. This is the second control of this type after a first alert in June at a wastewater treatment plant.

Although the virus was eradicated in 2003 throughout the Canal, the idea of ​​local authorities is to protect children as best as possible before a first positive case is confirmed. It should also be noted that the British are cooperating with Israel and the United States in particular to trace a possible link between the various contaminations in recent months.

For the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as for Australia, where two cases of diphtheria have been detected after 100 years of absence of the disease, health experts, in particular on the WHO side, estimate that the Covid pandemic has played An important paper. role. The distance from the school environment where vaccination is encouraged, the overcrowding of hospitals, misinformation with directed vaccines as well as a relaxation of practices against diseases that had practically disappeared are incriminated as having allowed the resurgence of these viruses.

In this regard, the WHO explains that the proportion of children who received the three doses of the diphtheria, tetanus and polio (DTP) vaccine fell from 86% in 2019 to only 81% in 2021. This vaccine is used as key indicator of global vaccination coverage. And the fall in vaccination is therefore indicative of a global relaxation.

See also in the Huff Post : Finally, the Minister of Health recognizes that emergencies are closed

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