Fears for Australians as polio spreads abroad

The Australian government's health officials are on edge as a result of a recent spate of newly discovered cases of polio in other countries.

The precautionary practise of testing sewage for the virus has been carried out at locations all around the country, with New South Wales being the most recent state to do so.

This comes after polio cases were found in both London and New York during the previous month.

While London had its most recent polio infection in the 1980s, New York City has not had a single reported case of polio in the previous nine years.

The discovery of poliovirus in the city's wastewater testing caused the governor of New York to proclaim a state of emergency in the state.

The Department of Health in NSW has now adopted a technique analogous to this one and started screening wastewater for the virus one week ago.

According to a statement, “Last week, NSW Health formed an expert panel that included experts from Victoria to explore the value and parameters of wastewater surveillance to help detect other infectious diseases, including polio.” This information was included in the announcement.

“Wastewater monitoring for poliovirus is now being developed by NSW Health as a precaution, despite the fact that there are currently no indications of polio infection in New South Wales. This programme will build on the success of the SARS CoV-2 wastewater surveillance programme.

“NSW Health is collaborating with Sydney Water to finalise the methodology and begin surveillance operations as quickly as possible,”

Since the year 2000, Australia has been considered to be polio-free, and the country's last known case of polio contracted locally occurred in 1972.

Polio outbreaks in the 1930s and 1950s wreaked havoc on the nation, claiming the lives of over a thousand people and leaving countless others with disabilities that would last a lifetime.

Paralysis is caused by infections less frequently than one percent of the time.

As part of the normal childhood vaccination programme, about 95% of people in Australia had received the polio vaccine by the age of five. This vaccination was given as part of the programme.

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