In recent news, for the first time in nearly 40 years, wild Polio has been detected in London sewage, putting the UK’s Polio-free status at risk.
It is a common belief that Polio was eradicated from the world back in the 80s along with Smallpox, but the truth is that Polio still affects 20% of the world population. In countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan, Polio is still endemic.
How does Polio end up in our sewage system?
Traces of Polio are actually “shed” by most of us at some point. That’s from people who have either been infected by Polio or those who have recently been vaccinated against it using a live version of the virus. However, due to the large number of tested samples proving positive, the latest case of Polio detected within London’s sewage systems is thought to be from an infected person having arrived from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Nigeria.
Current efforts are being made to locate where the outbreak has occurred.
Should we be worried about Polio?
Polio is a highly infectious disease which can cause paralysis (abortive polio) and respiratory problems. The most severe forms of Polio disease can lead to death.
This is why it is important to check your medical records for your polio vaccination.
You must also contact your doctor if –
- You or a member of your family has not been vaccinated against polio
- You or a member of your family did not complete the polio vaccine series (4 in total)
- You or a member of your family had an allergic reaction to any of the vaccines
- You have had Polio and noticed a recent change in health, such as fatigue and muscle weakness.
- You wish to get a booster vaccine for Polio
I am vaccinated against Polio; do I need to worry?
If you or your children have recently been vaccinated or received a booster, you are as protected as you can possibly be, and there is very little need to worry about the Polio outbreak in London.
If you were vaccinated over ten years ago and have not had a booster, you should book in for a DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio) booster as soon as possible.
We also recommend you get a booster before travelling to an affected area.
*While ongoing efforts are being made to localise the area from which the outbreak is thought to be coming, we highly recommend those living or travelling in and out of London to get a DTP booster.
What are the symptoms of Polio?
Symptoms can last up to 2 weeks and include –
- Sore throat
- Aches and pains – much like the flu
- Muscle weakness
You should seek medical advice if you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above.
Has COVID played its part in the return of Polio?
Due to COVID and lockdown, many children have missed their vaccination window. It is also thought our immune systems have been affected by lockdown in general. As a result, more people are suffering from illnesses that could have been prevented if not for the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
Looking at historical records of Polio cases worldwide, we see very few instances recorded before 2019, with as few as 30 confirmed cases recorded in 2016. However, by 2021 over 600 cases had been confirmed and reported.
We must now “catch up” with our vaccination program and protect our children.
Get boosted today
We highly recommend both adults and children receive a booster shot to protect your family and prevent the spread of any potential outbreak here in London.
You can book vaccinations for family appointments with the option of same-day service.
We also have a walk-in nurse-led clinic every Friday from 10- 2 pm. Booking is not essential but is advised as patients who have booked are prioritised on busy days and vaccine stocks are limited