The first polio case in the United States for a decade may have spread from London or Jerusalem, a global polio network has warned.
The Global Polio Eradication Initiative said the case of an Orthodox Jewish man – who was diagnosed with the deadly virus near New York City in July – was genetically linked to samples collected in Britain and Israel in recent months.
Local health officials who announced the American case last month said the victim was experiencing paralysis, a hallmark of the disease, and that he had not been vaccinated against it.
That diagnosis came weeks after UK Health Security Agency officials announced in June that a polio virus had been found in sewage samples from north and east London.
The strain has been classified as VDPV2.
The GPEI said its laboratory network had confirmed the VDPV2 isolated from the New York City case is “genetically linked” to samples “collected from environmental samples in early June in both New York and greater Jerusalem, Israel, as well as to the recently-detected VDPV2 from environmental samples in London, UK.”
A statement continued: “Further investigations – both genetic and epidemiological – are ongoing to determine possible spread of the virus and potential risk associated with these various isolates detected from different locations around the world.
“It is vital that all countries, in particular those with a high volume of travel and contact with polio-affected countries and areas, strengthen surveillance in order to rapidly detect any new virus importation and to facilitate a rapid response.
“Countries, territories, and areas should also maintain uniformly high routine immunisation coverage at the district level and at the lowest administrative level to protect children from polio and to minimize the consequences of any new virus being introduced.”
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