India's battle against polio has faced a fresh setback with Bihar reporting 193 fresh cases of the disease in 2007-the highest in the state since 1998.The state reported 61 polio cases in 2006.
Even though the Union health ministry has successfully contained the P1 virus strand of polio in the state, recording just 36 P1 cases, the culprit behind the 2007 outbreak is the P3 form of the virus. While Bihar did not record a single case of P3 virus in 2006, the number stood at 178 in 2007.
The ministry has now marked 72 blocks in Bihar as high risk. These blocks or the ones adjacent to them accounted for three-fourths of the total polio cases in the state in the last five years. In 2007, 90% of P1 cases were found in these blocks. According to the experts, polio immunisation drive is being intensified in these blocks. Additional financial and human resources are being provided to strengthen the polio campaign in these areas.
Over 2 million children will be vaccinated both against P1 and P3 strains in next rounds in Bihar. Bihar has seen worst floods in the last 30 years in August which badly hit the immunisation rounds in August and September. Experts believe that P1 has been India's main worry with most of the outbreaks over the past seven years being caused by this strain of the polio virus.P1 causes paralysis in 1 out of every 200 children as compared to P3 which causes paralysis in 1 out of every 1,000 infections. It travels faster and infects more often.
India recorded 534 cases of polio in 2007 of which 70 were P1 cases and 464 were P3 cases. Of these UP recorded 312 cases and Bihar 193 cases.NID will immunize 170 million children. Over 2.3 million vaccinators will visit 199 million households. According to the officials the highest priority of the programme is to rapidly improve supplementary Immunity Activity in high risk blocks of Bihar to prevent reinfection in polio free areas. For the first time since 1999 the number of P3 cases has outnumbered the number of infections caused by P1 strain. The global advisory committee on polio has given top priority to P1virus -eradication. P3 virus is very slow moving with low virulence.
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