Moradabad no longer polio epicentre: study
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In 2006, Moradabad in western Uttar Pradesh was cited by the WHO as the only area in the world that was actively exporting polio virus to other countries. Now, a new study has given a clean chit to the endemic district and found high immunity levels against the virus in children below five years.
Mumbai-based Enterovius Research Centre — a WHO accredited global specialised laboratory for polio, located at Haffkine Institute campus — undertook the study in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research and other health agencies, in November at Moradabad to assess the immunity levels of children in two age groups — six to 12 months and three to five years.
Dr J M Deshpande, Director of ERV, said a sample size of 900 children — who had been exposed to routine and supplementary rounds of immunisation — was studied. At least 99 per cent of children in the age group of three to five years had antibodies against the P-1 virus, while 90 per cent of the children in the age group of six to 12 months — who had received four doses of the high potency vaccine, monovalent oral polio vaccine (mOPV-1) — had antibodies against the Type 1 (P-1), the most virulent form of polio virus.
Following global concern over polio revival in western UP in 2006, the Government had stepped up its efforts with successive immunisation rounds. In 2006, 269 out of the 297 cases of polio were from UP and 80 per cent of the cases were from Moradabad, JP Nagar, Bareilly, Badaun, Rampur, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut and Bulandshahr districts.
In keeping with the recommendations of the India Expert Advisory Group on polio, mOPV1 and mOPV3 were used in the endemic areas of UP and Bihar. The strategy was to sequentially target Type 1 (P-I) polio virus strain — the most dangerous type of virus — and suppress Type 3 (P-3).