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Local doctor talks Polio outbreak in Israel

Published: May. 14, 2022 at 11:31 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The World Health Organization is in the process of vaccinating children in Israel following a Polio outbreak.

Oliver Rosenbauer, spokesperson for the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, WHO Geneva, says one child so far has experienced polio paralysis. Three other children have the virus but aren’t showing symptoms.

There is evidence the virus is spreading. Rosenbauer says it has been detected in a number of sewage samples.

Israel and neighboring areas reportedly have a high number of people with the inactivated polio vaccine or IPV. That protects someone against symptoms of the virus but doesn’t help stop the spread.

That’s why there’s a campaign right now to get vaccinated with the oral polio vaccine, or OPV.

Dr. Tim Lahey, an infectious disease expert at UVMMC, says it’s really hard to fully eradicate any infection off the face of the earth, but health teams are trying to get every last kid a shot.

“We’re getting close with Polio,” said Dr. Lahey. “There are actually just a few hot spots, typically places where war and other civic strife have slowed the progress of vaccination campaigns, and the challenge with Polio is it is really highly contagious and spreads in the drinking water.”

Rosenbauer says nine years ago, a similar situation happened in Israel and a campaign to vaccinate with OPV was successful.

That’s the goal this time around. If Israel goes 12 months without a case, then the outbreak would be considered “over.”

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