Via Haaretz: Health Ministry announces end to Israel's seven-month-long polio crisis. Excerpt:
Seven months after the polio virus was discovered in Israeli sewage and four-and-a-half months after the introduction of a national vaccination scheme, the Health Ministry has concluded that the crisis is over. Haaretz has learned that recent samples from sewage treatment plants tested negative for the virus.
The finding, coupled with the fact that stool samples taken throughout this period from people in areas where the virus was present in sewage all tested negative, means the episode that began in May 2013 ended without a single new case of the disease.
“The polio crisis is indeed behind us, but we remain diligent,” Health Ministry Director General Dr. Ronni Gamzu told Haaretz. He noted, however, that because the virus has been detected in neighboring countries, the oral polio vaccine has been added to the regular vaccination schedule, “and it is important that the public continues to be vaccinated.”
Between 1990 and 2004 Israeli children received both the oral polio vaccine, consisting of a weakened, or attenuated, form of the live virus and the inactive polio vaccine, containing the inactive, or dead, form of the virus. In 2004 OPV was dropped from the immunization schedule, until the recent scare.
Ministry officials are cautiously starting to speak of the crisis in the past tense, moving on to analyze and to reach conclusions about the most significant public health event in Israel in recent years. Since the national vaccination drive began, on August 18, the oral vaccine was administered to 980,000 children under nine, or 79 percent of the 1.2 million children in Israel in this age group.
Ministry officials say this high vaccination rate — it exceeded their expectations — coupled with the 98-percent vaccination rate for the inactive polio vaccine, means the entire Israeli population is adequately protected from the disease.