Polio symptoms in children and adults declared a ‘national incident’ over sewage

A national emergency was declared after a sample of sewage at Beckton in London was found to contain polio. The potentially deadly disease is easy to spread. What is polio and what are the early symptoms?

Symptoms of polio
Polio warning after discovery in London – early symptoms to be recognized

Polio spread between close associates and extended families has been reported in London.

A routine inspection of the Beckton Sewage Treatment Works in London took samples and found traces of the poliovirus.

The discovery was declared a “national incident” by the UK Health Security Agency.

Discovered between February and May, the samples have evolved and are now classified as ‘vaccine-derived’ poliovirus type 2 (VDPV2).

The risk of transmission across the community is currently being determined.

Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that can spread from person to person and cause paralysis.

So what are the first symptoms of polio to look out for?

Nausea is an early symptom of polio


(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Early Symptoms of Polio

According to the NHS, early warning signs can include:

  • A high temperature
  • Extreme tiredness (tiredness)
  • headache
  • nausea (vomiting)
  • A stiff neck
  • Muscle aches.

How polio spreads

The latest outbreak in London is said to have been caused by a person returning to the UK after being vaccinated against polio by mouth.

It remains unclear how widely the virus has spread, but it may be limited to a single household or extended family.

Polio is transmitted when an infected person’s stool comes in contact with another person’s mouth, either through contaminated water or through food.

Another way polio is spread is by oral transmission through the saliva of an infected person.

Polio can be prevented with a vaccine


(Getty Images)

polio vaccine

The potentially deadly disease can be prevented with a vaccine.

“Detection [is] underway to protect the public, who are being urged to ensure polio vaccines are up to date, particularly parents of young children who may have missed an opportunity to be vaccinated,” says the UK Health Security Agency.

“Vaccine-derived poliovirus has the potential to spread, particularly in communities where vaccine uptake is lower,” said Dr. Vanessa Saliba, Consulting Epidemiologist at the UKHSA.

She added: “On rare occasions, paralysis can occur in people who are not fully vaccinated. So if you or your child are not up to date on their polio vaccinations, it is important that you contact your GP to make up for it, or if you are unsure, check your red book.

“Most of the UK population will be protected from vaccination during childhood, but in some communities with low immunization coverage, individuals may remain at risk.”

Parents of children who are not up to date with their polio vaccination course are urged to make an appointment with their GP as soon as possible.

The UKHSA added that the risk to the general population was low.

How to reduce your risk of polio

Practice safe hand hygiene, along with food and water precautions, while traveling to reduce your risk of exposure to the poliovirus, experts advise.

As the virus spreads through unsafe food and water, good hygiene, including washing your food, is vital.

Children in the UK normally receive polio vaccinations as part of the UK vaccination schedule.

For adults and children 10 years and older who have not had a polio vaccine in the past, a three-dose vaccination course may be offered.

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease.

It is caused by the polio virus.

The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis.

Polio can be prevented with vaccination.

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