POLIO has been detected in sewage in the UK with the bug mostly affecting children.
The virus attacks the nervous system and in some extreme cases can lead to paralysis.
Most people will be protected from the illness with their poliovirus vaccine, which is part of the NHS’ routine childhood jab schedule.
Samples of the illness have been detected in North and East London – but medics have warned that just one in ten kids in the capital aged five are not vaccinated against the bug.
Health chiefs have urged parents to check records and to make sure little ones are up to date with innoculations.
Most people who get polio don’t have any symptoms – but some will experience a mild, flu-like illness the NHS says.
When it comes to signs of the bug, they are the same in children as they are in adults.
But as many kids might struggle to explain their symptoms, it’s important you know what to look out for.
The six signs of polio are:
- High temperature
- Extreme tiredness
- Being sick
- A stiff neck
- Muscle pain.
These symptoms will usually last for around ten days.
In rare cases, polio can cause people to experience difficulty using their muscles.
This is usually in the legs and can happen over hours or even over the course of a few days.
Medics say that in most cases, this isn’t permanent and movement usually comes back in a few weeks or months.
However, it can be life-threatening if the paralysis affects the muscles used for breathing.
It’s important to look out for the signs as polio can cause long-term or lifelong difficulties for those affected.
The NHS says that some people may be permanently paralysed, and others may have problems that need long-term treatment and support.
These issues can range from muscle weakness, problems with your joints, and difficulty swallowing.
Health chiefs say that if you’ve had polio before then you could develop symptoms again – or your symptoms could get worse.
This, they say, is referred to as post-polio syndrome.
Even though this is rare, those that have it may experience persistent fatigue, muscle weakness, shrinking muscles, muscle and joint pain and sleep apnoea.
Health chiefs in the UK say the risk to the public is low, but added that those most likely to catch it, are those not vaccinated.
Dr Kathleen O’Reilly, Associate Professor in Statistics for Infectious Disease and expert in Polio Eradication said families that have recently moved to the UK should contact their health provider.
“Findings suggest that there may be localised spread of poliovirus, most likely within individuals that are not up to date with polio immunisations.
“The most effective way to prevent further spread is to check vaccination histories, especially of young children, to check that polio vaccination is included.
“The UK vaccinates against polio using the ‘inactivated’ vaccine (called the IPV) where there is no risk of onward spread.
“For families that have recently moved to the UK, I recommend that they contact their local doctors (“GP”) and they will provide further support to confirm that children are up to date with their vaccines. It is free to register.”
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