Health Ministry to launch campaign thwarting polio spread

Health Ministry encourages public to observe better hygiene and take unvaccinated children under six to be vaccinated.

June 18, 2013 21:09
1 minute read.
A child receives polio vaccination drops in Managua April 15, 2013.

polio vaccine illustrative 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas)


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The Health Ministry will launch an information campaign via the media in the next few days encouraging the public to wash their hands with soap and water before eating and after going to the toilet or handling diapers. The effort is mean to halt the spread of polio virus that has been found over the past week in sewage in the South but has not caused any illness.

Ministry experts believe that a person who had been exposed to the virus came here from Egypt and that his infected stools showed up in the sewage system in the Negev city of Rahat.

Vestiges spread most recently to other Negev communities, including Ar’ara and Tel Sheva, as well as to Ashdod, the most northern point with signs of the virus.

The ministry will take additional samples of sewage to collect more data. It will conduct additional consultations with experts in the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control.

The ministry in Jerusalem stressed that there was no need for panic and that it was taking cautionary measures, as there hasn’t been an Israeli case of paralysis from polio in two decades. Some 95 percent of the population has been vaccinated against the disease.

Parents of children up to the age of six have been advised to go to their wellbaby (Tipat Halav) clinics to get their full complement of vaccinations, including polio, if they have not received all the shots. The ministry has ordered a new supply of 220,000 doses of vaccine, just in case. It is not planning to vaccinate the whole population, as most people already have immunity.

Poliomyelitis is an infectious disease caused by the polio virus, which is transferred between individuals.

It enters via the mouth and is excreted in the stools.

Most cases of infections pass without any symptoms of disease. In 10 percent of cases, the person suffers from mild disease with fever, headaches, sore throat, stomach aches, nausea and vomiting, and recovers in a few days. In the third – and very rare – form, which affects one per 1,000 individuals, the virus enters the central nervous system and causes paralysis.

The degree depends on the number of neurons damaged and affects mostly the lower limbs.

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