LAHORE - Polio environmental sample collected in July from one of the sites in Rawalpindi has been tested positive.
The district has three environmental sampling sites which are located at Safdarabad, Dhok Dallal and Serae Kala.
Serae Kala was added to the list of environmental sites only in December last year to reinforce polio virus surveillance and to plan any response on time.
The is the first time the district has tested positive since September 2022 and third sample which has tested positive in Punjab this year.
“The positive sample in Rawalpindi indicates that the virus is circulating in the region, even if no case has been identified it’s alarming for all the children”, stated Mr Khizer Afzaal Chaudhary, Emergency Operations Centre Coordinator and head of the polio programme in Punjab.
“Government is launching a vaccination response in the area to vaccinate every child by administering polio drops to boost their immunity against the crippling disease”, Mr Khizer said.
“If a single case is reported in a region, it remains threat to children residing in 200 houses in vicinity. Even though no case is reported from Punjab up till now, but the positive environmental samples are a clear message to all the parents to vaccinate their children with two drops of polio every time it is offered”, added the EOC coordinator.
Punjab has set up 31 polio environmental sampling sites in 19 districts. They include Lahore, Multan, Khanewal, Bahawalnagar, Jhang, Attock, Gujrat, Mianwali, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Rawalpindi Gujranwala, Sialkot, Sahiwal and Okara.
Surveillance for Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) is considered to be the ‘gold standard’ for polio surveillance in endemic and polio-free countries. But experts also indicated that environmental surveillance could serve as an early warning system for the detection of poliovirus when targeting areas where high-risk groups, such as mobile population, under or un-immunised populations, reside.