Fresh polio case in Bajaur sparks controversy
PESHAWAR, Sept 11: A fresh polio case has generated a controversy about the area it belongs to as the sufferer of the crippling disease basically hails from Bajaur Agency but lives in Rawalpindi.
According to National Institute of Health in Islamabad, Sanaullah, 3, on Tuesday tested positive for polio. He has received not a single dose of oral polio vaccine since birth.
“The child has been living in Rawalpindi for two years and therefore, the case is of Rawalpindi,” Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) health director Dr Fawad Khan told Dawn on Monday.
However, health authorities in Rawalpindi insist that the child belongs to Bajaur.
“Rawalpindi is still polio-free as we have not recorded any case this year so far,” executive health officer of Rawalpindi Dr Randhawa said.
He said the child was shifted to his native town in Bajaur Agency two months ago and he might have contracted the virus there.
He said the child lived in Mandi Morr area of Rawalpindi but currently, he was in Bajaur.
Last month, World Health Organisation issued a red alert when traces of poliovirus were found in sewer water of Rawalpindi.
Chief coordinator of polio eradication at WHO Dr Elias Durry told Dawn that Rawalpindi was a known high-risk area where the immunity level of the community was low due to heavy population movements.
He said polio eradication programme had not failed. Last month, the world health agency had issued a red alert after founding traces poliovirus in sewer water of Rawalpindi.
Sources at NIH said the child had a recent history of traveling to Bajaur Agency and that he had developed initial symptoms of poliomyelitis upon arrival in Bajaur.
“It must be noted that the symptoms take eight to 10 days to appear which proves that the child contracted the virus during his stay at Rawalpindi,” a source said.
NIH record shows that the new case is a 36 months old male child who had onset of paralysis on Aug 17, 2012. The child was born in Rawalpindi and remained there till Aug 14, 2012 during which he visited Bajaur Agency once in April 2010 for a couple of days.
The family along with the child moved from Rawalpindi to Bajaur on Aug 15 with mild fever. Next day, he developed high grade fever and was taken to a local clinic.
On Aug 17, he also developed weakness of all the four limbs and neck muscles due to which he was taken to Agency Headquarters Hospital (AHQ) in Bajaur.
On Aug 20, the child was again taken to AHQ Hospital, Bajaur Agency and on the same day later to Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar where he was admitted until Aug 27 during which his stool specimens were collected and NIH declared that he had got polio.A source at NIH said the genetic sequencing of the virus would make it clear if it belonged to Bajaur or Rawalpindi, but it would take a month or so.