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Rising cases of polio in Bihar

Patna, Dec. 17: Polio cases have been on rise in Bihar, despite sustained eradication campaigns, and the state shows the highest incidences of cases, right after Uttar Pradesh.

There are three types of Polio viruses — P1, P2 and P3. While the P2 strain has been eradicated completely world wide, P1 and P3 strains remain, with P1 being more dangerous than the P3 strain. Though the Bihar government claims that it would eradicate both the strains by 2008, health experts are not convinced.

And facts show why. Records show that as against 61 cases of polio in 2006, some 139 fresh cases were seen this year. While there has been a decrease in P1 cases from 61 in 2006 to 34 this year, there are 105 P3 cases this year, as against none last year.

Regional co-ordinator Devendra Khandet of the WHO told The Telegraph: “P3 cases have surfaced because of population influx and floods. Most of the 20 flood-hit districts bordering Nepal and Uttar Pradesh have reported P3 cases.”

Khandet said that the P1 cases were reported from Madhepura, Saharsa and Darbhanga. “Population density, poor living conditions and infections due to flood could be possible reasons for viral contraction.”

The regional co-ordinator conceded that the programme was a “difficult” one with infrastructure constraints. “The programme should ideally ensure eight to 10 doses to all children below five years to eradicate all P1 cases. P3 cases need at least three doses of mixed vaccine for eradication,” said Khandet. He, however, stressed that the disease can be tackled by 2008.

If the government took covered the floating population during religious gatherings and kept a tight vigil on railway stations, bus stands and air ports.

The chief minister Nitish Kumar recently admitted that his government would launch its “final assault” on polio by December next year.

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