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Polio Emergency


Polio Emergency: More on the News

  • The U.S. finds a place on a list of 30 countries, where either imported wild or vaccine-derived poliovirus or circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) has been identified.
  • Afghanistan and Pakistan are the two countries in the world where polio remains endemic.


Polio Emergency: Circulating Vaccine-derived Poliovirus (cVDPV):

  • If an Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) vaccinated person is infected with wild poliovirus, the virus can still multiply inside intestines and be found in faeces.
  • In some cases, this excreted vaccine virus can continue to circulate for a longer time period, with chances of undergoing genetic changes.
  • This virus is known as cVDPV.


Polio Emergency: About Polio Virus



Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious viral disease that can cause disability and can prove fatal in some cases.


Fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and pain in the limbs are initial symptoms.


  • The virus enters the nervous system and in just a few hours cause total paralysis.
  • One in 200 infections causes irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs. Among these, 5-10% people die after their breathing muscles are affected and immobilised.
Strains of Wild Polio Virus (WPV):


  • Type 1 – Still in circulation.
  • Type 2 – Eradicated in September 2015
  • Type 3 – Eradicated in October 2019.


The virus spreads mainly through the faecal-oral route. It can spread between population through contaminated water or food.


Majority of polio cases are recorded in children below five years of age, but all unvaccinated people can be infected.
Cure: Polio disease has no cure. It can only be prevented by vaccination.


Oral Poliovirus Vaccine (OPV):

  • OPV uses a weakened (also called attenuated) form of poliovirus to build immunity. It can either be one strain or a combination.
  • The attenuated viruses can replicate effectively in the intestines, but are around 10,000 times less effective in entering the central nervous system than the wild virus.
    • This enables individuals to mount an immune response against the virus.
  • OPVs are more suitable for mass vaccination campaigns as they can be administered orally.
  • In extremely rare cases, the live attenuated virus in OPV can cause paralysis.

Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV)

  • It is made up of inactivated (killed) poliovirus strains of all three types.
  • The vaccine is provided through an intramuscular or intradermal injection.
  • The vaccine produces antibodies in the blood against all three strains of the poliovirus.

Polio Emergency: Polio Immunization in India

  • The Government of India launched the Pulse Polio immunization programme in 1995, aiming to provide polio drops to all children in the 0-5 years age group.
  • WHO removed India from its list of endemic countries with active poliovirus transmission in 2012. India was certified polio-free in March 2014.
  • Risks for India:
    • India is in the close proximity of polio-endemic countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Despite the gaps in vaccination during Covid-19, there is no evidence of virus circulating in the community.
    • The last case of polio in the country was reported from West Bengal’s Howrah district in January 2011.
    • Surveillance: India carries out acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance of the population to meet global standards.
    • It also undertakes Environmental Surveillance (ES), which involves regular collection of sewage water, to check for poliovirus in faecal matter.
life cycle of polio virus
life cycle of polio virus


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