Polio found in London sewage, but risk of infection considered low

Polio has been detected in sewage samples in London, the first sign since the 1980s that the virus could be spreading in the UK, but no cases have been found,
authorities said.

The risk of infection from the disease, which causes paralysis in children in under one per cent of cases, was also low because of high vaccination rates, the UK
Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

The agency nevertheless encouraged parents to make sure their children were vaccinated after the discovery of the virus during routine wastewater surveillance –
particularly those who may have missed shots during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nationwide vaccination levels are above the 90 per cent needed to prevent outbreaks, but London’s coverage rates among the under-twos has dipped below that in recent
years.

NHS England will begin contacting parents of children under five who are not immunised.

Polio, spread mainly through contamination by faecal matter, used to kill and paralyse thousands of children annually worldwide. There is no cure, but vaccination
brought the world close to ending the wild, or naturally occurring, form of the disease.