MAITRI PORECHA Mumbai
In February 2008, Mohammed Asif, a boy from Kurla, was barely 1- year- old when he was found to be infected with polio virus. Even if, this was the last polio positive case to be detected in Mumbai, a possibi
lity of children being contracted with fresh infection has always kept the Brihan Mumbai Mahanagar Palika ( BMC) on a front foot, when it comes to tackling the menace.
It has been learnt from reliable sources at the civic body Public Health Department that one of the recent sewage samples collected from Thane and Raigad districts has been tested positive for poliovirus. This has put Mumbai, which has not recorded a single positive case since 2008, on a high alert as far as the disease is concerned.
” We are kickstarting a supplementary immunization campaign from August 21 onwards wherein community workers will be posted in 5000 booths around 24 wards in three shifts to record maximum reach of immunization.
Apart from this, 4100 teams have been deployed for house to house approach who will also undertake an entire night duty on August 27 to inspect whether any children of pavement dwellers or those staying on the street have not been missed out from being vaccinated,” said Dr. Ruchi Chiplunkar of Immunization team, BMC Public Health Department.
Sources also suggest that, though the national immunization day is a country wide immunization drive, which takes place annually in months of January and February, supplementary immunization campaigns are only arranged if sewage samples from a particular district or neighbouring districts in a state are tested positive for the virus.
The civic body records reveal that apart from April and July this year, immunization drives have been initiated in every month by the BMC to strengthen surveillance and increase polio related awareness amongst the masses.
” Mumbai is always on the verge of contracting the virus because of constant migration of population from Thane, Raigad as also from states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and others. Children of migrants at 3000 construction sites are being immunized in the upcoming campaign by special day mobile van teams,” stated Dr.
In Mumbai, the BMC is keeping a tab on vulnerable areas on Kurla, Bhandup, Chembur and Bandra as these areas have higher infestation of slums and dumping grounds. Lacks of cleanliness and open defecation are primary causes, which lead to growth of poliovirus, which unlike HIV can thrive in open environment for upto two weeks.
The virus then enters the human system through the fecal – oral route, which may lead an eventual paralysis of limbs to set in.
Though the World Health Organization ( WHO) in 2008, announced that P1 strain of poliomyelitis was eliminated from India, this reality seems far from satisfactory with the latest case of Wild Polio Virus ( WPV) this year, detected in an 18 month old girl from Howrah, West Bengal after an onset of paralysis in January 13. In Mumbai, there has not been a single case of polio since 2008. Also, the last wild poliovirus in sewage sample was found in December 2009 in Mumbai.