MUMBAI: Polio hotbed Uttar Pradesh and another worst affected state Bihar have not reported any polio case for the last several months giving the country a real chance to finally eradicate the crippling disease.
ICMR scientists while giving this information today said the country has reached the "best situation" in the eradication of poliomyelitis programme in a bid to become polio free.
In a turn-around in polio incidence, UP did not report even a single Wild Polio Virus Type III case for the last one year. The state has also not reported any case of Wild Polio Virus Type I for the past 15 months. Bihar, has not reported any case of Wild Polio Virus Type III for the last 15 months, and of Type I since September 2010.
"So both the states have done exceedingly well towards polio eradication," scientists at the Enterovirus Research Centre (EVRC) of Indian Council for Medical Research(ICMR) here said.
World Health Organisation certifies a country as polio-free only when no wild polio virus is detected for a continuous period of three years.
Compared to 741 reported cases of polio in the country in 2009, there were only 42 cases in 2010. In 2011, only one case has been reported so far which was from West Bengal.
The ICMR scientists said the country will however have to remain cautious in the run up to the high transmission season during the 2011 monsoon, said Mr Deepak Kapur, chairperson, India National Polioplus Committee of Rotary International.
"We have reached the best situation in the eradication of poliomyelitis programme and it is important to be cautiously optimistic and mobilise community information and education programme from house to house towards a polio free country," he said.
Mr Kapur said that UP, Bihar, Maharashtra and West Bengal were still at risk.
It was also essential to maintain the current high immunity levels in UP and Bihar, the EVRC scientists said.
The country’s Polio Eradication Programme has also enhanced surveillance by initiating testing of sewage samples in several sites in Delhi and Bihar.
As a part of the acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) surveillance in children below 15 years, EVRC has been testing sewage samples from three high-risk slum areas in Mumbai since 2001.