Polio strikes again

By Ramesh Raut
Published: Saturday 15 November 2008

Four-year-old polio victim Arb (Credit: VISHAL MAHAJAN)Back in Aurangabad after nine years

a fresh case of polio has come to light in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra after nine years. Four-year-old Arbaz Hasan Khan was diagnosed with the viral disease on October 4 in the foothill village of Vetalwadi in Soygaon tehsil. Arbaz got polio despite having been given seven doses of polio vaccine at the nearby Jarandi primary health centre.

Aurangabad's deputy director of health M I J Kazi refused to comment on why polio struck despite vaccination.

"Arbaz's case was detected during the school health inspection. We sent his stool samples for testing and the lab found p-3 virus (which is on the rise in India) in his stool," said Rajendra Gayke, medical officer of Jarandi primary health centre. According to Gayke, health officials have been vaccinating children for three major strains of polio virus, p-1, p-2 and p-3.

Arbaz's is the third case of polio in Maharashtra this year. The other two cases were detected earlier in Mumbai and Thane. These cases have dashed Maharashtra's hope of who according it a polio-free status.

Said Gulam Husain Pathan, Arbaz's grandfather: "Arbaz started running fever. We took him to the government hospital in Soygaon, but the doctor there advised us to take him to Jalgaon or Aurangabad." While the family was raising money to take the boy to another hospital--they work as farm labourers--medical officers from Jarandi came to the village and declared that Arbaz was suffering from polio. Jarandi primary health centre had suspected the disease and had sent Arbaz's stool sample to a laboratory in Pune.

The district administration is now conjecturing on the reasons for the spread of the polio virus to Aurangabad. "Arbaz's mother belongs to Ajanta, which is a famous tourist place. Also, Bhusawal railway junction is near Vetalwadi. The virus could have come through these two routes," said Gayke.

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