CAIRO 18 January 2013 – Wild poliovirus has been found in samples taken from sewage in Al Haggana (Nasr City) and Al Salam district in Cairo. The wild poliovirus is related to the wild poliovirus type 1, from north Sindh, Pakistan, which was reported in September 2012.
This is the first documented importation of wild poliovirus from Pakistan, after Egypt was declared polio free, with its last case in May 2004. At this stage, there are no cases (children) of paralysis associated with this importation.
These poliovirus strains have been detected through ongoing environmental surveillance in Egypt, which involves regular testing of sewage water from multiple sites (total in the country 34, in Cairo 5).
Emergency response and coordination efforts are ongoing between the Ministry of Health and Population, the Government of Egypt and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, WHO and UNICEF. Teams have been sent to each of the areas in which the virus was detected in environmental sampling and a field investigation and active search for cases is ongoing. The frequency of environmental sampling has been increased; environmental samples will be collected fortnightly instead of monthly from the five sites located in Cairo.
Supplementary immunization activities are being planned for a large-scale Cairo-wide campaign for children under 5 years of age, targeting approximately 3 million children. The campaign is planned during the coming month; dates have not yet been finalized. Immediate response vaccination in these two areas has been strongly recommended to the Ministry of Health and Population.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement, WHO, UNICEF and the Polio Monitoring Cell in Pakistan have announced this situation as critical and alarming for the polio programme in Pakistan. The statement further adds that children under the age of five departing Pakistan will be given polio drops at special counters at the airports.