Meanwhile, Israel drops almost all covid health rules.
Israeli health officials recently reported the country’s first case of polio in over 30 years.
An unvaccinated child, 4, from Jerusalem, contracted the highly transmissible virus, making it the first polio case in Israel since 1988, the Israeli Health Ministry said Sunday.
The Jerusalem District Health Bureau launched an epidemiological investigation and will be reaching out to people who were in close contact with the child, the ministry said, according to the Times of Israel.
Polio is a disabling and potentially life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The pathogen can invade the spinal cord and other parts of the nervous system and cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.
Most people infected with poliovirus (about 72 out of 100) are asymptomatic. Approximately 1 out of 4 people with poliovirus infection will develop flu-like symptoms, and about 1 out of 500 infected will develop more serious health effects.
Sewage testing in Jerusalem indicates a potential for many asymptomatic cases. A new vaccine campaign is being implemented.
Following the Health Ministry’s announcement that a 4-year-old Jerusalem girl was diagnosed with polio, Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preiss, head of public health services at the ministry, said Monday, “There are at least dozens or hundreds [of people in Israel infected with polio] who are apparently asymptomatic.
We do not expect a wave of children to show up with symptoms, but we understand that the virus is around. A vaccinated child is a protected child.”
Alroy-Preis stressed that “we are very far from an uncontrolled outbreak. We are preventing it by locating those around and vaccinating the unvaccinated.” Ministry sewage tests show that the polio virus is present only in the Jerusalem district, she added.
A WHO health spokesman said that the case was likely vaccine-derived polio, a mutation of the strain used for the oral polio vaccine distributed across the world.
The recently reported case was identified in a child who was 3 years and 9 months old and showed symptoms of paralysis, said Oliver Rosenbauer, a spokesman for the WHO.
He said this was an isolated case of a vaccine-derived poliovirus, a mutated form of the virus that can be fostered by the oral vaccine used in many countries and can cause paralysis when spread over a period of time between unvaccinated children.
“It is definitely not a wild poliovirus, imported from Pakistan or Afghanistan,” Mr. Rosenbauer said in an email, referring to the main and most dangerous form of the virus. “That we know for certain. But more needs to be found out, in terms of where or how this strain emerged, and whether it is circulating.”
As a reminder, two doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) are 90% effective or more against polio; three doses are 99% to 100% effective.
This contrasts with the waning efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, which Israel has been relying on to officially declare the end of the pandemic phase of their response.
It appears the wait is over, even though covid vaccines didn’t work as advertised.
Israel on Tuesday rolled back almost all of its COVID-19 health rules as a recent wave of infections receded, leaving in place just a handful to prevent a reversal of the positive development.
As the country transitions to the more relaxed status, the most notable rule to remain is a requirement to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces. The current requirement for masks in some large outdoor gatherings is canceled.
In addition, the Green Pass certificate, granted to those who are vaccinated, recovered, or recently tested negative for the coronavirus, will only be needed to enter old age homes.
Also, under the new guidelines, both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists of all ages will be allowed into the country, as long as they submit a negative PCR test before boarding the flight and take another one after landing in Israel.
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