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Poliomyelitis, the virus detected in UK waters: why it’s bad news

Poliomyelitis, the virus detected in UK waters: why it’s bad news
Written by aquitodovale

New health alarm coming from United Kingdom, which in 2022 has already gained a reputation as a pool of viruses and diseases. Indeed, after twenty years of rigorous “polio-free”, the British health system has taken over traces of the poliomyelitis virus. The traces, from an initial reconstruction, were found inside the wastewater to the north and east of London in a sampled period of time between February and May.

The origin of the traces seems to be that of the vaccine-derived poliovirus. According to Roberto Burioni, virologist and immunologist, it means that there are people who have contracted polio in the UK. In fact, Burioni explained on Twitter, “humans are the only natural host of the polio virus“.

Although low, the risk of a new polio epidemic cannot be completely ruled out, especially since, trusting in its eradication, there are so many people who have not undergone vaccination against the polio virus. It is precisely on this point that the British and world health organizations (WHO) are working to urge people to reduce the possible harm.

New cases of polio in the UK: virus found in sewage

Polio had been eradicated in the UK at least since 2003, when the nation had earned the “polio-free” country medal, although in reality the last case of wild polio dates back to 1984. “Wild polio” because there is it is the difference between the free and the diffuse virus derived from the vaccine. Although rare, as the epidemiology consultant explains Vanessa Saliba, the derived poliovirus presents a low risk, but it can still be risky. The main risk is, of course, that of unleashing apolio epidemic.

The UK health agency has sounded the alarm that traces of vaccine-derived polio, i.e. from people who have been given the vaccine orally and who have released the weakened virus through their faeces, have been found in wastewater for several weeks.

The UK health agency is already collaborating with various bodies, including the World Health Organization to manage the situation and avoid the risk of a pandemic.

Traces of polio in the UK: pandemic risk is low, but it exists

We have learned this over the last few years: never underestimate viruses and the possibility that they trigger pandemics. Even in the case of the polio virus, the attitude of vaccination responsibility must not fail, especially since there are many who do not have the vaccine or the booster of the polio vaccine.

In London, only 91.2% of the infant population is covered by the vaccine and in Italy only 9 Regions achieve vaccination coverage above 95%. For this reason, in the UK, families who have not vaccinated their children will be contacted to give themselves away with the polio vaccine. Also according to Saliba, who urged polio calls to be carried out, it is precisely the communities with low vaccination adhesion that are at risk of starting a polio epidemic. “On rare occasions it can cause paralysis in people who are not fully vaccinated, so if you or your child are not up to date with polio vaccinations it is important that you contact your GP to catch up.”, He wanted to recall, relying on the cases (between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1,000) in which the virus attacks the nerves of the vertebral column and causes paralysis of the legs.

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