Poliovirus: What is it and Why is it Being Found in the London Sewers?

According to several recent news articles, Poliovirus has been found in a higher-than-average number of London sewage samples, but what is it, why is it there and what can we do to be safe?

What is Poliovirus?

Poliovirus is a positive-strand non-enveloped virus that exists as three distinct serotypes (1, 2, and 3). Poliovirus is the causative agent of poliomyelitis, which can cause nerve injury leading to partial or full paralysis. Many infected individuals are asymptomatic but can transmit the virus to others. Transmission is mainly by the faecal-oral route and can, therefore; be reduced by good standards of hygiene. However mass vaccination programs have been the mainstay of prevention leading to the near eradication of the virus globally.

Why is it being found in London sewage samples?

Although we can’t be certain, some scientists have suggested that the poliovirus is being found in the sewers, originated from someone who has been vaccinated outside of the UK with the live oral polio vaccine, something that hasn’t been used within the UK since 2004. After being vaccinated and coming back into the UK, the person would then have shed traces of the virus from their stomach which would have ended up in the sewers.

In very rare cases, this form of the poliovirus can be transmitted to other people and mutate into a ‘vaccine-derived’ version of polio. Although this version of the virus is tamer than the original, it can still cause serious illness in people that are unvaccinated.

What can we do to be safe?

In the UK, we use an inactivated polio vaccine as part of our routine childhood vaccinations. Children are given the polio vaccine three times, the first one before they turn one, another when they are three, and a final one at fourteen. Recent figures indicate that over 92% of the UK have been vaccinated against the poliovirus, suggesting that the risk of becoming seriously ill if you come into contact with the virus is low.

The UK Health Security Agency have commented that parents should ensure their children have been fully immunised against the disease.

To evaluate the antiviral efficacy of a disinfectant formulation against non-enveloped viruses, get in touch today on 01706 214492 or email us at info@melbecmicrobiology.co.uk for more information.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Related Posts

    • Update on BS EN 13697:2023

      Published On: November 27, 2023

      With the ever-increasing need for effective disinfection and hygiene practices, it is crucial to stay up-to-date with the latest testing standards for disinfectants and antiseptics. At Melbec, we hold accreditation to BS EN 13697:2015+A1:2019 test [...]

    • Melbec Business Case Study

      Published On: September 19, 2023

      Melbec Microbiology was set up in 2013 by Dawn Mellors, an experienced microbiologist who has spent her working life in biocidal, cosmetic, and contract laboratories. Melbec offer a complete range of testing for these markets, [...]

    • Meet Melbec: Grace Mellors

      Published On: August 23, 2023

      As we mentioned early in the year when we posted our first 'Meet Melbec' blog post about our Founder and Technical Director, Dawn Mellors, we are working to highlight a member of the Melbec Team [...]