The U.K. Health Security Agency warned Wednesday that a strain of the disease that can cause paralysis may be spreading in the north and east regions of the city.
An investigation has been launched by the UKHSA to understand the scope of the spread. The agency advised that the virus poses a low risk to the general public, but has the potential to spread if vaccine coverage is not good.
If you or your child aren't up to date with their vaccinations, it's important you contact your GP to make sure you're protected. The majority of the U.K. population will be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases in childhood, but some people may still be at risk.
There is a possibility that this virus is causing a disease that is paralyzing some children.
The U.K. was declared free of the disease in 2003 due to a high rate of vaccinations. The health agency is urging residents to check on their children's vaccination statuses because the rate of childhood vaccination has dipped across the country.
The UKHSA and Medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency monitors for the disease in sewage samples. The UKHSA says that in a typical year, the agencies detect one to three unrelated polioviruses in the sewage system, but these are usually isolated events linked to people who have received the oral vaccine.
According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (opens in new tab), the oral vaccine contains live, but weakened, Polioviruses that can be shed in the stool of vaccine recipients and end up in the sewer. The level of immunity in communities with poor Sanitation can be boosted by the spread of the poop bound polioviruses. In some instances, the viruses have evolved to behave like wild, naturally-occuringviruses that can cause illness in people who aren't fully vaccined.
Due to the risk, many countries, including the U.S., only use "inactivated" polio vaccine, rather than the oral vaccine.
The sewage samples were collected between February and May. The most common type of vaccine-derived polioviruses was found among these. According to the UKHSA, VDPV2 can not cause paralysis in people who are not fully vaccineed.
According to the statement, the presence of VDPV2 suggests that the vaccine may be spreading among people who are close to one another. No cases of paralysis have been reported despite the fact that the virus has only been found in sewage.
The majority of Londoners are fully protected against the disease and won't need to take any further action, but the health service will begin reaching out to parents of children under the age of 5 who are not up to date with their vaccinations.
It was originally published on Live Science