The state government will launch a massive vaccination campaign between 20 and 26 June after it declared a “global emergency” into the matter.
The drive was put into place after an active strain of wild polio virus (P2 strain) was discovered in a water sample, collected from drainage.
No children have yet been found to be affected by the virus. India was officially declared polio-free by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2014. On a priority basis, vaccines have already been airlifted from Geneva.
“In this case, the P2 strain is vaccine derived. Someone vaccinated 10 months to a year back released the strain through stool. Such rare cases happen when a child's immunity is very low. To avoid such stray cases, that happens one in a million, the P2 strain is no longer given even in vaccines,” said Dr. G. Srinivasa Rao, chief program officer in charge of the drive in Telangana. The last identified case of polio virus was on January 13, 2011.
The state’s Health Minister C. Laxma Reddy assured there is no need to panic as of yet. Nonetheless, Hyderabad and other neighboring districts will be kept on high alert over the situation.
“Health workers and staff will visit homes individually and inform and we are appealing to parents with children in the age group of six weeks to 3 years to get their children vaccinated in this special drive in the identified areas in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy. The special immunization campaign will ensure all vulnerable children living in high-risk areas are given protection against polio,” said the health minister.
However, the federal government in New Delhi has rejected the outbreak of the virus. The Indian health ministry said in a statement: “India continues to be polio free as the country has eradicated wild polio virus and the last case was seen on 13th January, 2011, and it is more than 5 years that no wild polio virus has been detected. There have been some media reports that polio virus (P2 strain) has resurfaced in India for the first time in 5 years. However, it is not true as detected polio virus strain is vaccine derived poliovirus (VDPV) in a sewage sample collected near the Secunderabad railway station.”