Wednesday 22 June 2022

Polio is back in the UK but it cannot be transmitted to animals

Polio is not zoonotic meaning that it cannot be transmitted from person to animal and vice versa. However, that a report today in the online news media saying that polio is back in the UK and it has been declared a national incident because it is the first time it has been found to exist in the UK for nearly 40 years. 

Girl has polio
Girl has polio. Photo: Courtesy of the Boston Children's Hospital

They believe that the poliovirus came from a live vaccine given to a person living abroad. They came to this country and the poliovirus was in their faeces. This latest virus apparently has mutated over time and is now classified as a "vaccine-derived" poliovirus type II which behaves more like a wild polio. 

They picked up the virus in sewage I understand. Most people in the UK are vaccinated against polio as I understand it. I certainly am out but I am 73 years old.

On the rare occasions that it can infect the spinal cord and the base of the brain it causes paralysis, normally in the legs, which develops over hours or days. Sometimes the breathing muscles are affected which can make it life-threatening.

To someone like me, polio is something which we never consider at all. The UK was proclaimed to be polio-free in 2003 and the last wild case was detected in 1986. Let's just say that it has not been around in the UK for a very long time which is why people forget about it. In turn, that is why this information is a little bit surprising or even shocking to some people.

But the reason why I am posting it on this website is because people who have domestic cats need to be reassured that it is not transmittable to cats and vice versa.

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