India continues to be polio free, suspected cases still a reality, say experts

On this World Polio Day, while speaking on the occasion to My Medical Mantra, health experts mention that though polio is eradicated from India, high precautions as well as immunisation should be under taken as neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan still has an on-going battle with the disease

Image source: Google
Image source: Google

India is known for its constant fight against various diseases. In one such victory, India has continued to be a polio-free country since 2014, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This has been possible due to the constant checks and immunizations camps that are held regularly held across the country to keep a check on if there are any suspected cases.

In India, each year, more than 170 million children under the age of five were being vaccinated in two national immunisation campaigns. Bollywood Superstar Amitabh Bachchan has been one of the most prominent faces of the government’s polio awareness campaign. He is UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador for Polio Eradication.

According to WHO, polio is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person and spreads mainly through the faecal-oral route or by a common vehicle like contaminated water or food and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Around 28 cases of suspected polio are registered with the District Health Office (DHO) in Pune. The number was 49 last year. Dr Dilip Bora, Assistant District Health Officer said that the last four cases from Maharashtra were reported back in 2010. “In 2017, so far we have 28 such suspected cases. Last year the number was 49,” said Bora.

He further highlighted that the awareness among parents and doctors is high and hence a close check is kept on children developing physical paralysis. “The stool samples of the children are tested within 14 days of suspension and the virus can be detected at that time,” notified Bora.

As reported by WHO, around seven cases are diagnosed in Afghanistan and five in Pakistan. Last year, Afghanistan witnessed 13 cases whereas Pakistan witnessed 2 polio cases.