Polio Virus Detected In Brazil Sewage, Near World Cup Camps — But Don't Panic Just Yet
It's not just the FIFA World Cup games making headlines from Brazil. Samples of sewage taken from Viracopos International Airport in Campinas, the part of Sao Paulo State that is currently serving as camp for the Nigerian and Portuguese soccer teams throughout the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, tested positive for the polio virus. The good thing is that those samples were taken in March, and recent samples taken from the sewage were tested negative. Plus, at this time, no human cases have been reported yet, according to the World Health Organization. But officials in Brazil are still monitoring the situation very closely, as they should be.
"This detection does not mean any change in the epidemiological situation of Brazil or a threat to the elimination of the disease," the Brazilian Health Ministry said in a statement. Luckily, the samples were only found in the sewage, and haven't spread elsewhere, according to the WHO.
Polio is highly contagious and is commonly spread through sneezing, coughing, and fecal matter... yuck. It attacks the nervous system and can rapidly cause paralysis. Making matters worse, sometimes the virus doesn't show any symptoms, and that can only promote the spread of the virus.
Despite the fact that the virus hasn't been detected in a human yet, the wild poliovirus type 1 found in the Brazilian sewage is very similar to one case found in Equatorial Guinea on the African Coast. In that region, many people are not properly vaccinated so the risk of the virus spreading are quite high. Four polio cases have been detected in that region as of June 12.
At this point, there aren't any restrictions or bans on traveling to and from Brazil. Nearly 95 percent of all children in Brazil have been vaccinated. Therefore, even if a human did contract polio, the virus wouldn't be able to spread that much. Still, there's cause for concern: Children are most susceptible to contracting the virus, and the WHO estimates that there are 200 children carrying and spreading polio with little to no symptoms for every child who becomes paralyzed. That's a pretty scary statistic.
Given the amount of people who traveled to Brazil from all corners of the Earth to watch the World Cup, and the fact that they all have to return home at some point, Brazilian authorities are probably going to be working overtime.