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Israel's Polio Virus Came from Pakistan, Says WHO Physician

Tests show that polio virus affecting southern Israel traveled here from Pakistan. Israel to embark on emergency inoculation program.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/31/2013, 9:45 AM

Polio vaccination
Polio vaccination
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The strain of polio virus recently discovered in southern Israel is exactly the same kind as the type of virus that is prevalent in Pakistan, and which existed exclusively in Pakistan until recently, reports the Pakistan-based publication Dawn.

Dr. Nima Abid, a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Pakistan, told Dawn that the virus was "definitely" from Pakistan, since “The virus genotype (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," he said.

“We are amazed how it travelled all the way to Israel since the virus only existed in Pakistan," he added. "However, similar virus samples were also found in Egypt a few months back which had linkages with the Pakistan polio virus type-I (P-I)."

The samples of the virus strain were found in sewage in Cairo, in December last year.

There had been no cases of polio in Egypt for five years previously, and the disease had been eradicated in Israel much before that, said the WHO official.

He added that the laboratory at the National Institute of Health (NIH) was taking samples from every polio affected area and then performing its genotype tests. Researchers are trying to determine if the virus first reached Egypt before entering Israel, or the other way around.

“Most positive WPV1 (polio virus) samples were detected from southern Israel," according to an update on the WHO website. "All viruses have been detected in sewage only.”

The website added: “WHO’s international travel and health recommends that all travellers to and from the polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio. 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 Israeli Health Ministry is set to announce in the coming days that it is embarking on an emergency inoculation program to protect some 200,000 children from polio. A report on Channel 10 Tuesday night said that doctors have found hundreds of people carrying the virus in recent days, especially in southern Israel. The carriers are not sick, but can transmit the disease.

Polio was on the verge of eradication in the world, but according to a leading expert on Islam, Daniel Pipes, the dreaded disease is resurgent in the Muslim world, because of one man's paranoia.

Pipes writes that Ibrahim Datti Ahmed, president of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria and a physician, suggested in mid-2003 that the vaccination program in his country was part of a Western conspiracy to render Muslim children infertile.

“His call for an end to the polio immunization campaign touched a nerve and spread to other Muslim religious leaders in Nigeria, causing the vaccination process to slow down and incidences of the disease to pick up.

“From Nigeria, this dual phenomenon of conspiracy theory and re-appearance of the disease then expanded to Muslims internationally,” writes Pipes, who has been following the resurgence of the disease closely in his blog over the years. “So closely connected have Islam and polio become that the Muslim-only pilgrimage to Mecca became a major mechanism of transmitting the disease to faraway places like Indonesia.”

By now, he writes, Ahmed's paranoia has sent the new wave of polio from Nigeria to Muslim populations in at least 17 other African countries and 6 Asian countries.

How polio can spread into Israel Mark Langfan

According to strategy expert Mark Langfan, Palestinian Authority untreated sewage water introduced into the aquifers of the western salient of the mountains of Judea and Samaria gravitationally migrates underground westward into the aquifers of pre-1967 Israel.

"All the contaminated polio clusters in central Israel are in line with the general westward flow of the contaminated sewage water from the PA," he wrote in a recent Arutz Sheva op-ed.

Langfan accused the Palestinian Authority of intentionally neglecting sewage-treatment efforts, in the knowledge that contaminate sewage will flow downstream towards major Jewish population centres.