Polio cases are on the rise in Bihar. The state reported 180 new cases this year, which is highest in the country. On an average, the disease afflicted nine children every week in 2008. The worst-affected districts in Bihar are Samastipur, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and Khagaria, which reported 42 per cent of the cases this year.
With spurt in polio cases in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh has sounded an alert in the districts bordering that state. Director general medical health Dr Rajendra Kumar has directed officials to organise aggressive immunisation drive. Talking to the Hindustan Times, Dr Kumar said, “This year we has been able to check the spread of polio virus to some extent. This year only 21 districts reported polio cases (53) as compared to 43 districts reporting 341 cases last year,” he said.
This year cases were reported from Ghazipur, Varanasi and Azamgarh — located near Bihar border.
The most worrying part is that most of the affected children in Bihar had been administered around seven doses of polio drops. Health planners including some paediatricians, involved in the immunisation programme, differ on the number of doses required to protect a child. While some say even 14 doses are not enough to provide immunity to children, others maintain three are enough.
Quoting studies, former head of paediatric department, PMCH, Dr S.P. Srivastava said if seven mixed doses of the vaccine fail to provide protection to children, then there must be some missing link somewhere. “Either the vaccine was not potent enough to develop immunity among the children or the cold chain was not maintained,” he added.