Bihar set to win battle against polio

July 29th, 2010 - 8:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, July 29 (IANS) Bihar is set to win the battle against polio as the state recorded a steady decline in cases this year, officials said Thursday.
A World Health Organisation official said that in 2010 so far, Bihar has recorded six polio cases, all type P3, and the state has not reported any of the dangerous P1 cases since October 2009.

“No case of the most dangerous polio virus type P1 has been found since October last year in Bihar,” he said.

A Unicef official said it was good news that the state has remained free of the polio P1 for over nine months, the longest period so far.

The WHO and UNICEF officials said that for the first time, both Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are concurrently free of P1 polio since November 2009, providing an unprecedented opportunity to eliminate the strain from India.

Bihar state Health Society executive director Sanjay Kumar told IANS here that Bihar is moving fast to declare the state free from polio if the steady decline continues.

In a bid to reduce the risk of importing the virus from Nepal where four P1 cases have been reported, polio immunization is being done at all 46 transit points along the Nepal-Bihar border with 93 transit teams deployed for one month starting July 25.

Similarly, mop-up polio immunization was held in June and July in Araria, Purnea and Katihar districts, which border West Bengal’s Murshidabad and Birbhum where three P1 cases were reported.

The government has also adopted a multi-pronged approach in the identified 41 high risk blocks of the state. These blocks have a history of recurrent and persistent transmission of poliovirus.

According to WHO, Bihar reported 117 cases in 2009, compared to 233 in 2008 and 503 in 2007.

In a bid to control the disease in the state, the central government in January introduced bOPV vaccine in Bihar - the first use of the vaccine in India.

The state health official said the bOVP protects against both type 1 and type 3 polio virus. It will rapidly boost immunity of the children against type 3 polio while sustaining high levels of immunity against type 1 virus, which has been prioritised for eradication due to its potential to cause huge outbreaks.

He said as many as 41 high risk blocks have been identified across the state. A special block plan is being rolled out, focusing on sustained intensification of operations and reducing the risk factors of polio transmission by strengthening routine immunisation services and basic water sanitation infrastructure improvement in these areas.

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