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‘National incident’ as polio was discovered in North London sewage UK News

A ‘national incident’ has been declared after evidence of polio was found in sewage samples from North East London.

People are now being urged to make sure their polio vaccines are up to date.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has established the national incident to verify cases as a precaution.

Working with the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UKHSA has found polio in sewage samples taken from the London Beckton Sewage Treatment Works, which serves around four million people in North and East London.

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The polio virus has only been detected in sewage samples and no cases of paralysis have been reported, the UKHSA pointed out.

Most people who get polio have no symptoms, but some have mild flu-like problems, such as high temperature, extreme fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, and pain muscle.

In one in 100 to one in 1,000 infections, the polio virus attacks the nerves in the spine and the base of the brain.

This can cause paralysis, usually in the legs, which develops over hours or days. If the respiratory muscles are affected, poliomyelitis can be life-threatening.

The virus found in recent samples evolved in England and is now classified as a “vaccine-derived” poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2).

VDPV is a weakened strain of polio virus, originally included in the oral polio vaccine, which has changed over time and behaves more like the “wild” or natural virus.

This means it can spread more easily to unvaccinated people who come into contact with the feces or coughs and sneezes of an infected person.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, said the risk to the public was extremely low.

She said: “Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, especially in communities where vaccination is lower.

“Most of the UK population will be protected from childhood vaccination, but in some communities with low vaccination coverage individuals may remain at risk.

“We are urgently investigating to better understand the extent of this transmission and the NHS has been asked to promptly report any suspected cases to the UKHSA, although no cases have been reported or confirmed so far.”

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This notice was published: 2022-06-22 13:00:43

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