New Delhi: It turned out to be a false alarm when a case of suspected wild poliovirus was reported from Darbhanga district of Bihar today, the country`s first in 21 months, only to be found negative by evening.
Much to the relief of India`s anti-polio drive, which has helped the country remain polio-free for the last 21 months, the WHO after detailed examinations confirmed that it was not a case of polio virus.
"The suspected case of polio reported from Darbangha in Bihar has been found negative for wild poliovirus," a release from UNICEF said, adding that "The ERC Mumbai laboratory, where the samples were being investigated, confirmed the case as negative this evening."
The Government, which announced rolling out an immunisation drive in 28 districts of Bihar as a measure of abundant precaution after the suspected case was reported, called it off by the evening.
"Since the case has come out to be negative, there is no need for an emergency vaccination drive," said a top Health Ministry official.
An 18-month-old boy child was suspected to be of wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3). The last time such a case was reported in Bihar was in January 2010 and since then there has been not any case of WPV3. The WPV3 polio strain is found in Nigeria and Pakistan.
Sources told PTI that the child has reportedly been immunised for polio 13 times and is reported to have nutrition deficiency and further investigations are on.
India has been polio free since January 13, 2011 when the last case polio was detected in West Bengal.
India was officially struck off the list of polio-endemic countries by the World Health Organization (WHO), having gone more than one year without reporting any cases of wild poliovirus.
The country recorded only one case of polio throughout 2011, when a child in Howrah, West Bengal, was paralyzed on 13 January and no case has been reported since then.
As per WHO norms, India has to remain polio-free for three consecutive years before being declared polio free. Considering three years of polio-free period, India is being cautious in not reporting a case.
Only three countries in the world are now considered polio-endemic, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, who have never stopped indigenous wild poliovirus transmission.