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After genetic sequencing: Polio virus in Peshawar traced back to Lahore

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s health department officials were shocked to find that traces of the poliovirus found in Peshawar’s Shaheen Muslim Town area’s environmental samples had originated from Lahore.

A senior health official, who deals with polio eradication campaigns, told The Express Tribune that whenever environmental samples are found to be positive we carry out genetic sequencing to check where the virus had originated from.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that they were shocked to know that the virus found in the Shaheen Muslim Town’s samples had originated from Lahore.

The official also revealed that the environmental samples of the Larama area of the provincial capital have also tested positive. He added that the origins of Larama’s virus were traced back to the Shaheen Muslim Town area. In view of this, he said it could be that Larama’s virus may also have travelled from Lahore.

The official said that the samples collected from other districts, including Charsadda, Mardan and Nowshera, tested negative.

First campaign of 2017

This year’s first nationwide anti-polio campaign kicked off on Monday in 145 out of 166 districts/agencies /towns of the country. The campaign will aim to inoculate around 37.7 million children.

However, the campaigns in Quetta, Pishin, Killa Abdullah areas of Balochistan; South Waziristan’s Wana; and the Khyber agency were rescheduled from January 23 to January 29.

The reason for delaying the campaign in Quetta was because a monovalent oral polio special round (mOPV) campaign had already been carried out in Balochistan’s capital. On the other hand, the delay in Wana was due to the induction trainings of CBV data. However, the campaign was delayed in Khyber agency upon the request of the APCR.

The campaign has also been postponed in 16 districts of Balochistan, 47 UCs of K-P, three UCs of Gilgit-Baltistan, three UCs of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and four UCs of Fata due to heavy snowfall and will also start on January 23.

Some 250,000 personnel will be participating in the campaign which will include 24,045 area incharges; 7,508 UC medical officers; 188,134 mobile teams; 10,459 fixed and 12,076 transit team members.

Meanwhile, K-P’s polio campaign was inaugurated by K-P’s Deputy Speaker Dr Mehar Taj Roghani at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) on Monday.

The deputy speaker lauded the K-P government for ensuring that the polio cases had dropped down to only eight in 2016. (With input from our correspondent in Islamabad)

Farooq, Umer. After genetic sequencing: Polio virus in Peshawar traced back to Lahore. The Express Tribune, January 17, 2017.

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