No need to be alarmed by the new VDPV strain

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

• India has been polio-free since the last 5 years
• Adequate preventive measures and good nutrition can help manage the condition
New Delhi, 23 October 2017: As per recent studies, 14 sewage samples collected from various parts of India, including Hyderabad, between January 2015 and May 2016, have tested positive for vaccine-derived polio virus (VDPV). According to experts, the current immunization programme in India involving the use of Oral Polio vaccine (OPV) can become a risk factor for spread of the disease. However, India was declared polio-free in the year 2014, which was a major public health milestone for the country.

Polio (also called poliomyelitis) is a highly contagious disease. It is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Children below 5 years are more likely to contract the virus than any other group. Even without symptoms, people infected with poliovirus can spread the virus and cause infection in others.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, National President Indian Medical Association (IMA) and President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Dr RN Tandon – Honorary Secretary General IMA in a joint statement, said, “There is no reason to panic as no wild polio virus has been detected. India is still polio-free for the last 5 years. This detected strain is a Vaccine-derived (VDPV) Polio Virus (VDPV) and not a wild Polio Virus stain. VDPV strain of P2 has been seen in the past also in sewage water, as P2 oral vaccine was given to children till recently. The current VDPV strain has been noticed in sewage water and not in a child. The risk of VDPV transmission to children is negligible. As per the current polio policy since 25 April 2016, tOPV (trivalent vaccine) has been withdrawn from the market and has been switched to bOPV (bivalent vaccine). India was declared t OPV free on 9th May. tOPV contains 3 types of polio serotypes: type 1, type 2 and type 3. The bivalent vaccine does not contain the type 2 virus.”

About 1% of polio cases can develop into paralytic polio. Some symptoms include loss of reflexes, severe spasms and muscle pain, loose and floppy limbs, sudden paralysis, and temporary or permanent deformed limbs, especially the hips, ankles, and feet.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, said, “There are two vaccines available to fight polio: inactivated poliovirus (IPV) and oral polio vaccine (OPV). IPV entails a series of injections that start 2 months after birth and continue until the child is 4 to 6 years old. OPV is created from a weakened form of poliovirus; this version is the vaccine of choice in many countries because it is low cost, easy to administer, and gives an excellent level of immunity.”

On World Polio Day, there is a need to create awareness on the fact that although improved public sanitation and careful personal hygiene can help reduce the spread of polio, the most effective way to prevent the disease is with polio vaccine. Also, there is no cure for polio as such and the focus is on increasing comfort, speeding recovery, and preventing complications.

Some supportive treatments include
• Bed rest
• Pain relievers
• Portable ventilators to assist breathing
• Moderate exercise (physical therapy) to prevent deformity and loss of muscle function
• A nutritious diet including fruits and vegetables.