India is polio-free but wary

Delhi marked a year without any reported case, still the risk is high

On January 13, India celebrated an entire year without any case of polio being reported. But due to high levels of migration in Delhi, the city is still exposed to the threat.

“Delhi is a political, cultural and economic hub of India and a lot of people migrate here on short-term or long-term basis. Approximately 3.5 lakh children come to the city every year, some of whom may carry the polio virus from their respective regions,” said Dr C M Khaneju, officer on special duty for Delhi’s Pulse Polio Programme.

Polio threat
The threat of virus being active is most likely in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, from where maximum influx takes place every day in the Capital.

“In the whole country the exercise of polio vaccination is conducted twice a year but UP and Bihar still run aggressive campaigns.

“The case with certain pockets of Mumbai and Delhi is also the same as the nature of social migration is similar in both the cities. We have to conduct polio vaccination exercise more regularly as the threat of relapse is higher,” said Dr Khaneju. 

It has been nearly two-and-a-half years since the last case in the city was reported in June 2009. However, the virus was found in the sewage lines of the city till August 2010.
“We started civil surveillance along with Delhi Jal Board. After understanding the sewage system of Delhi, we decided upon seven points from where we collect samples to check for virus.

These samples are reflective of a particular area. Till August 2010, the sampling confirmed presence of virus in Delhi even though no case among a child was reported,” said Dr Khaneju.

Pulse Polio Programme put targeted intensive efforts in these areas. On January 15, nearly 12 lakh children received polio vaccine in the city. The target of 24 lakh children in every drive is expected to be achieved over the next five days.

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