Parents in London with children under five have been invited by the NHS to give them the polio vaccine after the virus was found in sewage.
The last case of wild polio contracted in the UK was confirmed in 1984. According to the UK Health Security Agency, a ‘vaccine-derived’ poliovirus was found in sewage samples collected from London’s Beckton sewage treatment works.
It is thought a vaccinated person who spent time overseas shed the virus in their faeces. Investigations are under way, but so far no cases of paralysis or community transmission have been reported.
Jane Clegg, chief nurse for the NHS in London, said: ‘The majority of Londoners are fully protected, but the NHS will begin reaching out to parents of children aged under five who are not up to date with their polio vaccinations to invite them to get protected.
‘Meanwhile, parents can also check their child’s vaccination status in their “red book” and people should contact their GP surgery to book a vaccination, should they or their child not be fully up to date.’
Most people with polio do not have symptoms, but some get mild, flu-like symptoms. Rarely, polio can cause temporary paralysis of the legs, and can be life-threatening if it affects the respiratory system. The UK was declared polio-free in 2003.
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