Fears of poliomyelitis infections in the UK: what is poliovirus type 2 (PVDPV2)?

British health officials are urging people to get a polio shot after the virus was discovered during routine monitoring of London sewage samples. In a statement on Wednesday, the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) said investigations were underway after several closely related viruses were found in sewage samples from the Beckton sewage treatment plant. collected between February and May.

“It is normal for 1-3 ‘vaccine-like’ polioviruses to be detected each year in UK sewage samples, but these are still one-off findings that have gone undetected,” said the UKHSA.

No human cases of polio have been found in Britain, but let’s take a look at this alarming virus.

Read also | Traces of polio virus found in London sewage as national incident declared

What is poliovirus type 2 (VPDV2)?

The original “wild” poliovirus (WPV) and the much more common modified oral vaccination strains, or circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus, are the two causes of recent poliomyelitis infections (cVDPVs). The three wild strains of poliomyelitis each gave rise to different strains of cVDPV, with cVDPV2 being the most prevalent. In 2021, 689 cases of paralytic poliomyelitis were recorded worldwide due to cVDPV.

Although less potent than wild poliovirus, this version can still paralyze unvaccinated people and cause serious illness.

According to the WHO, there were 959 confirmed cases of VDPV2 worldwide in 2020.

Symptoms and possibility of spread

Fever, exhaustion, headache, nausea, stiff neck, limb discomfort and, in a very small percentage of cases, paralysis, often irreversible, are some of the signs and symptoms of poliomyelitis. Poliomyelitis has no known cure.

Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, especially in communities where vaccination is lower.

The weakened poliovirus seen in some parts of the world live oral polio vaccine is the source of vaccine-derived polioviruses like those recently discovered in London.

Vaccine-derived poliovirus and other viruses have the potential to evolve over time to act more like wild virus, especially in unprotected individuals.

Up-to-date polio vaccinations

The risk to the public for the virus is considered low as no cases have been reported. Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at UKHSA, urges the public to check their polio vaccinations to be up to date.


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Post expires at 6:23am on Sunday July 3rd, 2022