“The time has come to shift to Injected Polio Vaccine, as this does not cause the disease”
A nine-month-old boy from Navi Mumbai has tested positive for Vaccine- Derived Poliovirus (VDPV) type 2 and is now on ventilator at BJ Wadia Hospital in Parel. This is the fourth such case recorded in the country this year.
“When he arrived, he didn’t have any power in all the four limbs. Now, he is showing signs of improvement. There is flickering and muscle contraction in his legs,” said the director of the Directorate of Health Services, Dr. Satish Pawar.
Arsh Singh, born in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, was brought to Mumbai by his mother when he was two months old. Since then, he has been orally vaccinated for polio five times. “There seems to be a problem with his immunity, which we are examining at the moment. In normal children, the polio virus in the intestines completely dies after about 200-300 rounds of replication. But in this child’s case, due to low immunity, the virus seems to have become virulent, resulting in polio,” said Dr. Pawar.
A Polio Surveillance Team visited the Ilthanpada area in Navi Mumbai where the child lives. The area has 95 per cent polio vaccination coverage, according to municipal records. The team has taken stool samples of all the family members, including Arsh’s older brother.
Meanwhile, the State Health Department has asked the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation to follow a protocol. “There are about 450 children in the Ilthanpada area and they will be thoroughly examined. A polio drive will be undertaken in Navi Mumbai and if there are homes that had not administered polio drops, they will be asked to do so,” Dr. Pawar said. The sewage system and other sanitary conditions in the area would also be checked.
The earlier three cases were from Orissa, Pudicherry and Maharashtra. In 2012, a VDPV case was recorded from West Bengal. Going by the past records, circulating VDPVs have been rapidly stopped with 2-3 rounds of high-quality immunisation campaigns. Health experts said the solution lay in immunising a child several times with the oral vaccine to stop polio transmission, regardless of the origin of the virus.
“The time has come to shift to Injected Polio Vaccine, as this does not cause the disease. Even as India has become polio-free, the need of the hour is for the government to come up with a comprehensive programme where even VDPVs don’t occur,” said Dr. Nitin Shah, paediatrician from PD Hinduja Hospital.