Polio in Israel: Virus found outside Jerusalem for first time

Traces of the virus were found in three more Israeli cities as two children have already tested positive for polio.

Employees of KANDO, a wastewater management technology firm, demonstrate a project of sewer surveillance which they say aims to pinpoint unknown outbreaks of coronavirus by identifying traces of the virus in the sewage system in Ashkelon.  (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Employees of KANDO, a wastewater management technology firm, demonstrate a project of sewer surveillance which they say aims to pinpoint unknown outbreaks of coronavirus by identifying traces of the virus in the sewage system in Ashkelon.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

Traces of the polio virus were found in sewage samples in Beit Shemesh, Modi’in Illit and Tiberias, a Health Ministry Thursday update stated.

This is the first time the virus was found to spread out of Jerusalem, where two Israel children have tested positive in the last week. A further five children are suspected to have contracted polio in the Jerusalem area.

Following last week's news of an unvaccinated four-year-old child who tested positive, the first polio case in Israel since 1989, the Health Ministry has urged Israeli parents to vaccinate their children against polio if they have not done so already.

The polio vaccination campaign continued on Thursday, as the Health Ministry reported 11,785 children were taken to get the jab, up from Wednesday's toll of 11,397.

The Ministry called on parents to make sure that their children were being vaccinated according to protocol and receiving all four doses in order to receive complete protection from the virus.

Tipat Chalav centers, which are responsible for administering the vaccine, will be reinforced in the coming week in order to meet the growing demand, the Health Ministry said.

A nurse fills a syringe with a vaccine before administering an injection at a kids clinic in Kiev, Ukraine August 14, 2019 (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)A nurse fills a syringe with a vaccine before administering an injection at a kids clinic in Kiev, Ukraine August 14, 2019 (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)

Head of Public Health Services Dr. Sharon Elroy-Preis held a special press conference on Monday where she stressed the importance of parents continuing to follow normal vaccination programs in order to safeguard their children from the disease. She also recommended that the first vaccine be moved up to six weeks after birth and the second 12 weeks after birth.

Polio is a highly infectious disease that invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis within hours. While there is no cure, it can be prevented by a vaccine.