14 September 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
In a severe blow to the state’s polio control programme, two more children tested positive for the poliomyelitis virus from Malegaon. The fact that one of the fresh cases is from the same locality where two cases were detected earlier this year, has the authorities worried.
Additional director of state health services Dr V M Kulkarni confirmed that the child was from one of the families who refused routine immunisation. Faria was taken to the Malegaon Civic Hospital only after paralysis and weakness had set in in his limbs on August 10. Soon after, his samples were sent for testing to the Enterovirus Research Centre at Parel. "It tested positive for the P1 strain of the virus on September 6," he said.
Around the same time, 10–month–old Althamesh Anjum developed similar symptoms of paralysis and was taken to the Malegoan Civic Hospital where her stool samples were sent for examination to the same centre in Mumbai. She, too, tested positive for the P1 strain of the virus on September 6. Althamesh’s case, though, triggered panic in the minds of state health officials as she happened to be from Nayapura, where two polio cases were reported in February and August this year.
Kulkarni added that though both Faria and Althamesh were discharged from the hospital, it will take a while before the paralytic effect fades away. "There is no danger to their lives now," he said. He confirmed that a special surveillance officer under the National Polio Surveillance programme will be deputed only to look after programmes in Malegaon.
Meanwhile, the state government as well as agencies such as WHO and UNICEF could be working on innovative ways to tackle refusals and provide more information on immunisation. "Both the children are from refusal families and it is time more effective ways to reach the community be chalked out," said Dr Ravindra Banpel, regional team leader, WHO. The upcoming national immunisation round has been postponed because of Ganesh festival and is likely to take place on September 26.