The government on Friday confirmed that the 18-month-girl from West Bengal who had developed Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) has tested negative for polio. The stool samples of the child have tested negative for wild polio virus at the tests conducted in the Institute of Serology, Kolkata.

A section of media had flashed the case of Sumi Naskar from 24-Parganas district, as polio even as thorough investigations were still being carried out. The national newspapers, including the international media, described the case as a huge setback to India’s polio eradication program.

Sumi Naskar was admitted to a hospital in Kolkata earlier this month from where she was picked up by the polio surveillance network for investigation. As part of surveillance for polio, any child less than 15 years of age who suddenly develops floppiness or weakness or paralysis in any part of the body is investigated thoroughly. These cases are called Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) cases. Polio is one of the several causes of AFP and not the only cause for AFP.

Two stool samples of the girl were collected on 13 and 14 March and sent to the Institute of Serology Kolkata for investigation. Stool samples are collected from all AFP cases and tested to rule out polio as a cause of the illness.

Sumi is one of the many AFP cases detected this year and investigated for polio. In 2012 so far, around 9,000 AFP cases have been investigated by the National Polio Surveillance Programme with the support of local health authorities. All the stool samples of these AFP cases have tested negative for polio. An update of the Acute Flaccid Paralysis cases under investigation and the laboratory results is available on the website of the National Polio Surveillance Project.

India has not reported any case of polio since 13 January 2011 and has been struck off the list of countries with active endemic wild polio transmission in February 2012. But the job is not yet done. As the risk of polio persists, the surveillance for polio continues to be of the highest sensitivity, detecting and investigating all cases of AFP to rule out polio. An AFP case cannot be reported as polio until confirmed by a laboratory.