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Parents Warned To Check Vaccinations Are Up To Date Following Polio Detection

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Parents Warned To Check Vaccinations Are Up To Date Following Polio Detection

Parents are being warned to check their children's vaccinations are up to date, after the virus which causes polio has been detected in a number of sewage samples in London.

While the risk is low, The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is advising parents to ensure their children are fully vaccinated.

Parents are being warned to check their children's vaccinations are up to date. Credit: Alamy
Parents are being warned to check their children's vaccinations are up to date. Credit: Alamy

The UKHSA has said waste from the Beckton sewage treatment works in Newham tested positive in February and that more samples had tested positive since.

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“Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, particularly in communities where vaccine uptake is lower,” said Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist at the UKHSA. “On rare occasions it can cause paralysis in people who are not fully vaccinated, so if you or your child are not up to date with your polio vaccinations it’s important you contact your GP to catch up or if unsure check your red book.

“Most of the UK population will be protected from vaccination in childhood, but in some communities with low vaccine coverage, individuals may remain at risk."

The UKHSA has said waste from the Beckton sewage treatment works in Newham tested positive. Credit: Alamy
The UKHSA has said waste from the Beckton sewage treatment works in Newham tested positive. Credit: Alamy

The vaccine is used in routine children's vaccination programmes in the UK and is given at eight, 12 and 16 weeks; three years old and again at 14 years old.

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You need to have all of the vaccinations to be fully protected.

The NHS explains that polio is caused by a virus that spreads easily when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be caught from food or water that's been in contact with the faeces of someone who has the virus.

While tests on sewage often pick up polio viruses each year, these come from those who have had the oral polio vaccine in another country and have subsequently travelled to the UK.

While many who have polio do not have symptoms, some get mild, flu-like symptoms. Credit: Alamy
While many who have polio do not have symptoms, some get mild, flu-like symptoms. Credit: Alamy
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Those who have the oral jab can shed the live virus for a number of weeks. However, the samples detected this time are different - they are related to one another suggesting it had spread between people.

While many who have polio do not have symptoms, some get mild, flu-like symptoms such as: a high temperature; extreme tiredness; headaches; being sick; a stiff neck and muscle pain.

The NHS explains that rarely, polio can cause difficulty using your muscles (paralysis), usually in the legs.

As a result of the findings, the UKHSA has declared a national incident.

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Investigations are now underway where community transmission may be occurring.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Health, News

Lucy Devine
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