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Despite immunisation drives, Rajasthan and other States report fresh polio cases

D.N.I.S News Network - Fresh polio cases have been reported in the past few months even in areas, and among children, that have undergone immunisation during government-run eradication drives - the latest one being from the State of Rajasthan.

Two-year-old Radha from Kushalgarh has developed polio despite being regular with numerous eradication drives. Her parents are in a state of shock to see the unimaginable happening, according to a vernacular newspaper.

With increasing number of cases, concerns are now being raised that the oral polio vaccine virus is mutating to become virulent and cause paralytic illness. These cases are known as Vaccine Associated Paralytic Polio (V.A.P.P.).

Though the Health Ministry denies existence of such cases in India. But Indian Academy of Paediatrics data showed at least 200 such cases in 2003.

Every country has V.A.P.P. based on the population and susceptibility of children to vaccines. But our programme does not recognise V.A.P.P. The national pulse polio campaign does not even look for V.A.P.P.," eminent virologist Dr. T. Jacob John, Co-chair of the Polio Eradication Committee of the Indian Academy of Paediatrics and Member of Expert Advisory Group of the National Polio Surveillance Programme, was quoted as saying in the media.

Studies estimate that one in every 4.6 million doses of oral polio will lead to the paralytic illness. But for India, the numbers are higher than the estimated 60-75 cases per year. The numbers are rising, according to the 2004 Bulletin of Polio Eradication Committee of Indian Academy of Paediatrics.

In 1998, there were 124 cases of V.A.P.P., 206 in 1999, 151 in 2000, 120 in 2001 and 203 in 2002. Senior Health Ministry officials Dr. Shobhan Sarkar, National Advisor, Polio Eradication, and Dr. N.K. Ganguly, Director-General of Indian Council of Medical Research - maintained there is no V.A.P.P. in India.

The World Health Organisation, that recommended oral polio vaccine for eradication programme, says in its 2005 Report: "Since 1999, increasing scientific data demonstrate that polio eradication will also require the eventual cessation of oral polio vaccine use in routine immunisation programmes. Otherwise, the continued reintroduction of the attenuated polio viruses of oral polio vaccine into a polio-free world will result in polio cases due to V.A.P.P. and polio outbreaks due to circulating vaccine-derived polio viruses.