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Israel discovers the first case of polio since 1989.

8 March 2022 — According to an announcement from Israel's Ministry of Health, a 4-year-old kid in Jerusalem has been diagnosed with polio for the first time since 1989.

According to the government, the youngster was not inoculated against polio as part of standard immunizations given to children in Israel. In this scenario, the disease is caused by a modified variant of the polio virus, which can cause illness in those who have not been vaccinated.

 

“The most important means for preventing polio disease is to make sure that you follow routine vaccination protocols. Those who have yet to complete their routine vaccinations are urged to do so with all due haste,” Said the ministry.

A ministry official told Israel Hayom that the 4-year-old child is in a state of weakness that could progress to paralysis. The official stated that neither the child nor his family had had polio vaccinations, and that the boy could be one of hundreds or thousands of children who have been exposed to the mutant form of polio.

"The population vaccinated against polio is protected,But this could be significant for the unvaccinated population, and the recommendation is to get vaccinated. It’s disturbing, mostly because this is a completely preventable disease," Stated the oficial.

The Jerusalem District Health Bureau has launched a contact tracing investigation, and those who have had close contact with the child will be given specific instructions. According to the ministry, more guidelines will be issued based on the investigation's findings.

"It should be noted that the virus has been found in sewage water samples collected from the area, a finding that occurs occasionally, but so far there were no clinical cases in similar past incidents," the ministry said.

According to The Times of Israel, evidence of the polio virus were discovered in sewer systems across Israel in 2013, but no diagnosis were made. Israeli health officials started a large immunization campaign for children under the age of nine at the time.

Following the discovery of the newest case, Sharon Alroy-Preis, MD, head of Israel's Public Health Services, said during a news conference on Monday that the first polio vaccine dosage should be administered at 6 weeks after birth and the second at 12 weeks after birth.

Polio is a highly contagious disease that can be transmitted from one person to another or by contaminated water. It is a neurotoxin that targets the neurological system and can result in paralysis. Typically, the condition affects youngsters under the age of five. 

The case in Jerusalem follows an epidemic of the virus in Malawi in February, which included the paralysis of a 3-year-old girl. The strain was discovered to be related to one found in Pakistan, where it is still prevalent. In Afghanistan, it is still endemic.

Beginning March 21, Malawi will launch a statewide vaccination campaign targeting almost 3 million children under the age of five, who will receive four doses of the oral polio vaccine.

"The resurgence of the wild poliovirus in Malawi, decades after it was last detected, is cause for serious concern. Vaccination is the only way to protect the children of Malawi from this crippling disease, which is highly infectious," Rudolf Schwenk, a UNICEF Malawi representative, said in a statement. 

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