London children to be offered polio vaccine after new virus discovered
The agency said it had not located anyone infected with the virus and the risk to the general population was low. The decision to offer boosters to young children was a precaution, he said.
“This will ensure a high level of protection against paralysis and help reduce the spread,” the agency said.
The agency said it was also extending sewage monitoring to at least 25 other sites in London and nationwide.
Most people across Britain are vaccinated against polio as children. According to the World Health Organization, only one in 200 polio infections leads to paralysis; most people have no symptoms.
The Health Security Agency said it was working closely with WHO health authorities and in United States and Israel to investigate any link to polio viruses detected in these two countries.
Kathleen O’Reilly, a polio expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the polio virus circulating in London was “genetically linked” to recent cases identified in the United States and Israel.
“Further investigation is needed to fully understand how they are connected, but it shows that this virus has the potential to cause disease,” O’Reilly said in a statement.
Poliomyelitis is a disease that often spreads through water and mainly affects children under 5 years old. It has been largely eradicated from developed countries, but epidemics remain in Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of Africa.
Early symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, and muscle stiffness. Among those paralyzed by the disease, death can occur in up to 10% of cases when their respiratory muscles become paralyzed.
In rare cases, the live virus contained in the oral polio vaccine used in the global effort to eradicate the disease can mutate into new forms potent enough to trigger new epidemics. The vaccine booster effort in London will use injected polio vaccines that do not carry this risk.
Experts called the discovery of the spread of polio in London “worrying” and said the virus posed a significant risk to anyone unvaccinated.
“If (polio) continues to spread, it will lead to cases of paralysis,” said Nicholas Grassly, professor of vaccine epidemiology at Imperial College London. “It is therefore essential that children are up to date with their polio vaccines. »
Grassly said the injectable polio vaccine was less effective at stopping transmission of the virus than the oral vaccine and it was possible that the oral vaccine would need to be reintroduced to eliminate the virus.