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Health Ministry claims victory over wild polio virus
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
10/01/2014
Latest tests show no sign of virus; ministry reinstates polio vaccine to children's routine immunization schedule.
 
The latest tests on sewage plants around the country have not found any vestiges of wild polio virus, the Health Ministry said on Friday. There are only three Beduin towns in the South where the virus is found from time to time - in Rahat, Arara and Tel Sheva.
 
These results are evidence of a “trend of the disappearance of the virus,” which spread like wildfire through many parts of the country last summer - but fortunately did not cause anyone to take sick with the paralytic disease. The ministry credited the achievement to its massive campaign of giving oral polio vaccine (OPV) to children under nine years old.
 
It also decided to reinstate the polio vaccine in drop form to the routine immunization schedule of children, and not only injected polio vaccine (IPV). It will be given in two doses to babies aged six months and 18 months to prevent the wild virus from returning.
 
The ministry had stopped giving OPV nine years after receiving advice from the World Health Organization, as OPV can theoretically and in extremely rare cases give the paralytic disease to someone. But no such cases were reported after more than a million Israeli children were vaccinated in the last five months with OPV.
 
Syria launched an OPV campaign after 17 were infected and contracted polio from a similar virus.
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