A 14-month-old baby in the Indian capital of New Delhi has been diagnosed with the P1 strain poliovirus, making her the first polio case in the country this year. The P1 strain is known for it propensity to cause large outbreaks.
This is the first case of P1 poliovirus in Delhi since 2006 and neighboring areas like Ghaziabad and Faridabad have been put on high alert. "When sporadic cases are reported, there is a 'mop-up' meaning that the concerned area gets one round of immunisation as soon as possible. We are in consultation with the government of India and will do as instructed as far as the immunization round is concerned," said Vivek Rae, Delhi Health Secretary.
Gulnaaz, the baby, was taken to hospital on February 15 when her parents realised that her right limb was not moving. "She had high fever and investigations confirmed that she has polio. The family lives in Darbanga jhuggi, a slum populated mostly by migrants from Bihar, one of the most backward pockets in the country. Though we have not done any genetic analysis yet, we are fairly certain that the virus has traveled from Bihar," said a surveillance medical officer with UNICEF. Gulnaaz has been administered 11 doses of polio vaccine till now, reports the Hindustan Times.
Seven cases of polio P1 virus were reported in 2006. Last year, the state government claimed the capital was free of the P1 virus.
The dreaded P1 virus has been at the epicenter of this year's outbreak in Bihar. So far, 83 cases have been reported from the state.
Focusing on the polio scare in the country, particularly in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram allocated Rs 1,042 crore for a revised strategy on the crippling disease. India recorded 864 cases in 2007 as against 676 cases the previous year.
The poliovirus enters body through mouth when people eat food or drink water contaminated with faeces. Virus then multiplies in intestine, enters bloodstream and may invade certain types of nerve cells, which it can damage or destroy. Polioviruses spread very easily in areas with poor hygiene.