Polio was found in London. What do you need to know

(ORDO NEWS) — If apocalyptic news is not enough for you, you will definitely appreciate this one: the polio virus was found in the sewage of London. Yes, yes, the very one that raged in the world until the end of the 1950s, affecting mainly children under five years old.

Then the development of a vaccine and large-scale immunization of the population stopped the spread of infection, but it was not possible to completely eliminate the virus. This means that if there is at least one infected child in the world, everyone is at risk.

Recall that poliomyelitis is an acute infectious disease that affects the gray matter of the spinal cord and can lead to pathology of the nervous system and paralysis.

There is no cure for the disease, so the only possible solution is vaccination. We understand what is happening in London and why local health authorities are sounding the alarm.

What is polio

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), since 1988, the number of confirmed cases of polio in the world has decreased by as much as 99%. The remaining percentage is shared by Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. It is in these countries that outbreaks of poliomyelitis have been reported over the past two years.

The virus mainly affects children, but adults can also become infected. The causative agent is a highly contagious poliovirus that enters the body through the digestive tract and replicates in the intestines. You can become infected through water, food, or during contact with a sick person who does not properly wash their hands.

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In the middle of the last century, polio claimed many lives in the USA, Europe, the USSR, Asia and Africa

Symptoms of polio include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and rash. In some cases, symptoms resemble those of a cold and include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing and swallowing. All this “beauty” is accompanied by fatigue, high blood pressure and headache.

Irreversible paralysis (usually of the legs) develops in one in 200 cases and is asymptomatic, without affecting the nervous system. It turns out that out of 500 infected children, only one remains paralyzed, and the incubation period of the disease does not exceed 5 days.

Polio vaccination

Since there is no cure for polio, vaccination is the only weapon. There are currently two polio vaccines in use worldwide: oral (consists of a live but safe version of the virus (OPV)) and inactivated (given by injection, without live virus (IPV)).

The OPV vaccine is effective in preventing infection, but in rare cases, live virus can cause disease and lead to paralysis. The second vaccine (IPV) carries no such risk. Its effectiveness is almost 100%, however, it does not stop the transmission of infection in the human population.

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Before you is an “iron lung” – a hermetic pressure chamber the size of a person, inside which a pressure is created that is different from atmospheric pressure. People for years and years lived in prison in iron apparatuses

According to health experts, if outbreaks of polio are not eradicated, then in just 10 years the world will be registering up to 200,000 new cases of infection annually.

Polio in the UK

According to British media, polio has been found in sewage in London, which greatly alarmed scientists. According to genetic analysis over the past four months, the virus entered the sewers on New Year’s Eve.

The last confirmed case of polio in the UK was in 1984, and in 2003 the country officially declared itself free of infection.

It was possible to identify the polio virus as a result of testing for COVID-19 and other diseases. Interestingly, the collected samples contained only poliovirus RNA, and experts are conducting a detailed investigation in six districts of the British capital.

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Polioviruses are transmitted easily and quickly. Most often, infection occurs by the oral-fecal route

Immunization coverage in London is 86.6%, but this is not enough to completely eradicate the disease. The latest analysis done suggests transmission of the virus among young children.

So you can understand the concern of British experts: outbreaks of polio have previously been observed in developing countries, where the level of vaccination of the population is low.

According to Nicholas Grassley, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, polio persists in some of the poorest countries. And if the infection is not eliminated, the risk of its importation and spread in different countries will remain.

Given the presence of the virus in wastewater and the risk of spread, a state of emergency has been declared in the UK, the introduction of which involves the start of vaccination of certain population groups and the collection of tests from areas where the virus was detected.

Is polio a threat to the world?

At the time of writing, no cases of polio have been identified in London, so the risk of spreading the infection is small. The fact is that the vast majority of residents of the capital were vaccinated in childhood and are protected from the disease.

But how did the virus end up in the sewers? It’s simple: people who are infected with polio or vaccinated with OPV shed traces of the virus that go down the drain.

Apparently, the poliovirus vibrio came to London along with an infected traveler. And because the virus is extremely contagious, the number of asymptomatic carriers among the unvaccinated population is on the rise.

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The threat of the spread of polio is very serious

According to experts, the opportunity to return to countries free of infection was allowed by the coronavirus pandemic – most of the routine vaccinations against polio were violated around the world. And this is very bad, since polio has remained one of the most terrible diseases on Earth for decades.

Another serous threat is the growth of superbugs. My colleague Andrei Zhukov spoke about whether another crisis is brewing, do not miss

Waiting for a new pandemic

I guess few people could have imagined that in the 21st century humanity would be fighting a new variety of monkeypox, measles, polio, cholera and a whole range of dangerous diseases.

A big contribution to what is happening was made by opponents of vaccinations, who feel great on social networks. But should we be surprised?

While activists are communicating among themselves, inventing tall tales, long-conquered diseases are claiming lives around the world.

According to some scientists, the outbreak of monkeypox can already be called a pandemic. At the same time, WHO experts report that the world is not ready for another outbreak of a deadly infection.

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Affects the nervous system and in a matter of hours can lead to general paralysis

Also, do not forget about the propensity of viruses to mutate, as happens with the new coronavirus. Just imagine what the monkeypox and polio virus can turn into if it spreads uncontrollably.

In a word, the moral of this fable is that you can defeat the spread of most infectious diseases with the help of vaccination. Otherwise, we may be witnessing several epidemics at once and the consequences of rapid climate change. This is what the 21st century is like. Take care of your loved ones.


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