Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Urgent Immunization in Pakistan After Type 2 Polio Found

After type 2 poliovirus was found in samples of sewage from the southern city of Quetta, Pakistan initiated a five-day-long vaccination campaign for children under age five. Pakistan is one of only three countries left with endemic polio (the other two being Afghanistan and Nigeria). In 2016, Pakistan had only 19 reported cases, with just one of them in Baluchistan, the province of which Quetta is the capital. Since the discovery of poliovirus in the sewage, no human cases have been identified, but the strain has been added to vaccines that already immunized against the more common type 1 poliovirus.

Vaccination campaigns in Pakistan are politically fraught, due to distrust for public health measures seen as Western intervention. Since the capture and death of Osama bin Laden, Pakistanis have viewed vaccination campaigns as possible covers for Western spies, for example. In Quetta last year a suicide bomber associated with the Taliban killed 15 people outside a vaccination center. This year, the vaccination campaign has partnered with Muslim clerics to promote immunization efforts.

Polio is an enterovirus in the family Picornaviridae, with positive-sense, single-stranded RNA and a naked icosahedral T=3 capsid.

by Julia Daniel


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