Mutated virus heightens polio worries

In recent months, the PM Polio Cell has registered 22 polio cases in all. Most of them were reported from Fata, different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. — File Photo by AP

www.dawn.com

ISLAMABAD, July 29: A rare and dangerous strain of a mutated polio virus has reappeared in Pakistan to the dread of the long-time polio-free world.

Dr Alias Durray, chief of the World Health Organisation’s polio eradication programme in Pakistan, confirmed to Dawn that the strain, which has close genetic similarities with the globally eradicated P2 strain, has paralysed a baby boy in Mastung district of Balochistan.

This latest case has followed the one reported from Jafarabad district of the province in May this year. Mastung and Jafarabad district are 300 kilometres apart.

The polio virus has three types of strains termed P1, P2 or P3 strain. Immunity from any one strain does not protect a person from the other strains. The P2 virus had been eradicated globally in 1998, and only the P1 and P3 strains remain.

What is sad is that a strain similar to the mutated polio virus had been stopped after it first broke out and struck 15 children in Qila Abdullah area of Balochistan in 2011.

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