As many as 800 persons travelling to polio-endemic countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Nigeria have been administered oral polio vaccines by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) since March this year.
Dr Milind Khedkar, Immunisation Officer, PMC, said polio virus surveillance had been intensified to detect import of the virus to
the country. He said to ensure people travelling to polio-endemic countries do not get infected with the virus, the PMC has set up a booth in the city to administer polio doses. As per the recent directive of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, officials at the booth also check immunisation certificates issued to travellers in their respective countries.
With not a single polio case reported for the last three years in the country, WHO had certified South East Asian region (which includes India but excludes Afghanistan and Pakistan) as polio free. “We have all the more reason to be careful and prevent the re-entry of the virus from these countries,” said Khedkar.
As part of the surveillance, the PMC health officials are also focussing on detecting acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases. AFP can be caused by a number of conditions but the most common is poliomyelits. A child under the age of 15, who has an acute onset of flaccid paralysis but no obvious cause is found, is thoroughly examined and clinical investigations are done to rule out polio. Since January this year, we have identified 20-25 cases of AFP, said Khedkar ruling out they were caused by polio. “Our surveillance will also focus on high risk areas like slum pockets in the city and new construction sites,” he added.