British health officials found traces of poliovirus during a sewage inspection in London as the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) declared a national incident on Wednesday.
The poliovirus was reportedly found in sewage samples between February and May, and has been classified as “vaccine-derived” poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2).
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However, no cases of human poliomyelitis have been detected as the WHO noted that “the virus has only been isolated from environmental samples” while warning that it is a “threat to children of the whole world”.
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Health authorities said the risk to the general public was low, but added that poliovirus could spread.
Officials have urged children to get vaccinated with the NHS urged to report any suspected cases to UKHSA. It is considered a threat to children and young adults.
Poliovirus causes illness and paralysis in those who have not been vaccinated, as the WHO reports polio vaccination in London stands at 87%.
The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) said that “several sewage samples were taken from London Beckton sewage treatment facilities between February and June 2022”. The area would cover North and East London.
The UKHSA said it was investigating the extent of transmission of the virus in north east London.
(With agency contributions)
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