Eastern Indian representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) hold an emergency meeting with West Bengal state public health department officials in Kolkata recently after germs of the polio virus were detected from the gutter waters in a pocket in the city. This has raised concern among the health experts as WHO had declared India as polio-free country eight years back. The country received 'Polio-free certification' from the UN health agency on March 27, 2014, with the last polio case being reported in Howrah in West Bengal on January 13, 2011.
Quoting health department sources, IANS reported that the polio virus was detected from the gutter waters in the Metiabruz area, which falls under Number 15 borough of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Sources added that the authorities regularly conduct testing of gutter waters in different pockets in Kolkata.
A senior officer of the health department told the news agency that a decision was taken during the meeting to conduct a thorough surveillance in the area to identify whether there is any child with immune-deficiency syndromes. Luckily, so far, no report of any child being affected by the virus has been reported.
The official said that all the state-run medical colleges and hospitals have been directed to conduct stool tests of all immunity deficit children admitted there. In addition, stress will be given on arrest of open defecation and vaccination, the official added.
Causes and symptoms of polio
Poliomyelitis or polio is a highly infectious viral disease caused by the poliovirus that can an infect a person's spinal cord and cause paralysis. The disease largely affects children under 5 years of age. The poliovirus is transmitted from person to person mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, through contaminated water or food. The virus multiplies in the intestine, and from there it can invade the nervous system.
In most cases, people infected with poliovirus will not have any visible symptoms. Some may havee flu-like symptoms that may include sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, headache and stomach pain. These symptoms usually last 2 to 5 days, then go away on their own, according to the US CDC.
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When the virus affects the brain and spinal cord, one may develop more serious symptoms such as paresthesia (feeling of pins and needles in the legs), meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain), and paralysis (can't move parts of the body) or weakness in the arms, legs, or both.