Wild polio virus strain claims 1st victim in city

This year's first P1 wild polio virus strain has been isolated in Delhi. Fourteen-month-old Gulnaz from Darbangia colony in Kirti Nagar area is the victim. Daughter of a rickshawpuller, the girl's family migrated from Bihar just six months ago. She was supposedly administered 10 doses of oral polio vaccine in the last two national immunization rounds in January and February this year. Till now this year, 106 polio cases have been isolated in India but all of them have been P3 strains. This is the first P1 polio case in Delhi after August 2006. P1 has been India's major enemy with the global advisory committee on polio giving top priority to its eradication. The Union health ministry successfully contained its spread in 2007 with just 36 cases. For the first time since 1999, the number of P3 cases had outnumbered the number of infections caused by P1 strain. P1 travels faster and infects more children, which is why the emphasis was on eradicating type 1 first. P3 is a very slow moving virus with low virulence. P1 causes paralysis in one out of every 200 children, as compared to P3, which causes paralysis in one out of every 1,000 infections. Health ministry sources told TOI that a polio vaccination round is scheduled to take place in Delhi this month. But states can undertake an emergency mopup operation whenever a P1 strain crops up. Polio has been crippling India, with 864 cases in 2007 compared to 676 cases in 2006. This made finance minister P Chidambaram allocate Rs 1,042 crore just for polio in the Union Budget for 2008-09, most of which will be spent to contain the virus in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Bihar, which reported 193 fresh cases of the crippling disease in 2007, has been exporting polio strains across India. An alarmed health ministry has now marked 72 blocks in Bihar as high risk. These blocks or the ones adjacent to them accounted for three-fourths of the total polio cases in the state in the past five years. In 2007, 90% of P1 cases were found in these blocks. According to experts, polio immunisation activities are being intensified in these blocks. A special immunization drive was conducted on January 13 in these 72 blocks. A ministry official told TOI: