Israel is seeing an outbreak of polio virus after more than three decades.
Traces of the virus have been found in three more Israeli cities as two children have already tested positive for polio, Jerusalem Post reported.
The traces were found in sewage samples in Beit Shemesh, Modi’in Illit, and Tiberias, according to a Health Ministry update.
Last week, two children in Jerusalem tested positive and a further five children are suspected to have contracted polio in the capital city, the report said.
The cases are the first in Israel since 1989. The Health Ministry has urged Israeli parents to vaccinate their children against polio if they have not done so already.
Polio is a highly infectious disease that invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis within hours. While there is no cure, it can be prevented by a vaccine.
Polio virus is seeing a resurgence in many countries including in Africa and eastern Europe.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday announced that more than 80 million polio doses will be administered to over 23 million children under five years in a mass vaccination campaign in the African nations of Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Malawi declared an outbreak on February 17, the first such case in the country in 30 years, and the first in Africa since the region was certified free of indigenous wild poliovirus in 2020.
War-torn Ukraine is also grappling with an outbreak of vaccine-derived polio with two cases in the country’s west last year, and the most recent in December. Poliovirus was also isolated from 19 healthy contacts, Nature reported.
Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia has also paused a three-week campaign to vaccinate nearly 140,000 children, launched onA February 1; it has also hit polio surveillance, so the virus might be spreading undetected, warns the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, based in Geneva.
Recently the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued a travel advisory to “Afghanistan, areas in Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Yemen” regarding polio outbreaks.