Islamabad: A polio virus prevalent in Pakistan has been detected in Israel, and the WHO says it does not know how the virus travelled all the way there.
"The virus genotype (or genetic make-up) is the same as prevalent in Pakistan and this is what the research has indicated. We don`t have details how the virus travelled all the way to Israel," Nima Abid, a representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Pakistan, told the Dawn.
"We are amazed how it travelled all the way to Israel since the virus only existed in Pakistan. However, similar virus samples were also found in Egypt a few months back which had links with the Pakistan polio virus type-I (P-I)," he said.
For the last five years, there have been no cases of polio in Egypt, and for several years more than that in Israel, the WHO official said.
An update on polio in Israel in the WHO website says: "Most positive WPV1 (polio virus) samples were detected from southern Israel. All viruses have been detected in sewage only."
The WHO official said samples of the same virus strain were also found in sewage in Cairo in December last year.
The WHO recommended that all travellers to and from polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against the virus.
"Three countries remain endemic for indigenous transmission of WPV -- Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Additionally, in 2013, the Horn of Africa was also affected by an outbreak of WPV," the website says.
As to how the polio virus travelled, a senior physician in Islamabad told Dawn that even an elderly person can transmit the polio virus as it remains in the intestinal tract of humans for many days regardless of their age.
According to official figures, around 25 polio cases were reported from January to June 2012 in Pakistan. This year, the number is just 18. Most of the cases have been reported from FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.