Today: Sunday, 26 May 2024 year

UK declares emergency over polio virus in London sewage

UK declares emergency over polio virus in London sewage

UK health officials have declared a nationwide state of emergency over the presence of polio at a London wastewater treatment plant.

The UK Health Safety Agency notes that samples from the Beckton sewage treatment plant in Newham tested positive for vaccine-derived poliovirus in February. Since then, new positive samples have been found.

In total, traces of the second serotype of wild poliovirus (PV2) were found in samples received from February to May of this year. The specimens were closely related.

“Vaccine-derived poliovirus can spread, especially in communities where vaccine use is lower,” said UKHSA epidemiologist Dr Vanessa Saliba.

Most Britons are protected from the virus by being vaccinated as children, she said, but there may be citizens at risk where vaccination coverage has been low.

British sewage tests typically detect several unrelated polioviruses each year. They come from people who received their oral polio vaccine in another country and then travel to the UK.

The London samples found since February raised alarms because they were related to each other and contained mutations that suggested the virus had evolved as it passed from person to person.