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Polio virus discovered in Jerusalem

JTA

September 10, 2013 | 9:36 am

Electron micrograph of the poliovirus. Image from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Electron micrograph of the poliovirus. Image from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The polio virus was discovered for the first time in Jerusalem.

The virus, which was discovered several months ago in southern Israel and spread to the central and northern parts of the nation, was found in Jerusalem’s wastewater treatment plant, Israel’s Health Ministry said Monday.

In a campaign launched six weeks ago, some 720,000 children aged 9 and under have been vaccinated with a weakened form of the live virus — slightly more than half of those being targeted for the extra vaccination. The children already had been inoculated against polio in their regular childhood vaccinations.

According to the ministry, the Jerusalem district has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the current campaign, Haaretz reported.

“The finding suggests that the virus has not yet been overcome and highlights the immediate need for completing the vaccination campaign against polio,”  the ministry said in a statement, according to Haaretz.

The purpose of the extra vaccine is to pass the weakened virus to adults with whom the children come into contact who may not previously have been vaccinated to allow their bodies to build up a resistance to the virus.

It is believed the virus was brought to Israel from Egypt; polio was discovered in sewage in Egypt in December. The same virus also is prevalent in Pakistan.

Israel experienced its last case of polio in 1988.

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