Barely two weeks after World Health Organisation (WHO) declared India as a polio-free nation, an 18-month-old female child was admitted to a state-run hospital in Kolkata with suspected polio on Monday.
The child, Sumi, a resident of Indrabala village near Baruipur in South 24 Parganas district, was admitted with symptoms of paralysis with disability in movement and fever.
The child’s stool samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune and School of Tropical Medicine in Kolkata for confirmatory tests. The reports are expected next week.
“It is a suspected case of polio. In medical parlance, the symptoms are called acute flaccid paralysis. The patient is under observation,” Kumar Kanti Das, superintendent of Baruipur subdivisional hospital (BSH), said.
The child’s mother, Shanta Naskar, said Sumi began dragging her feet after she was administered routine immunisation (not for polio) at a primary health centre in February.
“Several other babies in our locality are suffering from these symptoms,” Shanta said. Her husband Sudhangshu works at a factory that makes puffed rice. Sumi is their only child.
Authorities have now decided to decided to launch an intensive surveillance programme in Indrabala village, said Dr Amabasu Das, additional director of health services in charge of mother and child care.
The last polio case in the country was detected in January last year when a two-year-old girl from Howrah district was afflicted with the virus. There were no reports of other polio cases in the country in the following 12 months, and India was declared polio-free.
“We have checked with the district administration. WHO officials have also rushed to the hospital. The child was administered oral polio vaccines more than once,” Sanjay Mitra, principal secretary in charge of health department, said.
If Sumi is indeed afflicted with polio, it will raise questions about the efficacy of the pulse polio drives that the administration organises with fanfare.