New Delhi: "India remains polio free for the fourth consecutive year," the Health Ministry said refuting reports that around 200 samples have tested positive to polio-like symptoms in Uttar Pradesh and asserted that its test has found all these cases negative.
India has put in place a strong system for surveillance on polio and these 208 cases in Bareilly are that of the 'acute flaccid paralysis' a condition which presents symptoms similar to polio but the causes are not related to an infection by the polio virus, the ministry said.
"Nearly 18,000 Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) cases have been investigated between January and June 2015 as part of the ongoing surveillance activities in India.
"The 208 cases reported from Bareilly in a section of the media are a part of these. Reports of all AFP cases received from the laboratories in 2015 are negative for polio virus," the Health Ministry said in a statement.
The Health Ministry said that polio surveillance in India has been set up as per the global guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in which all cases of paralysis with sudden onset in children up to 15 years (which is called Acute Flaccid Paralysis or AFP) are reported and investigated by the polio surveillance network.
Noting that the stool samples are tested for the virus in WHO-accredited laboratories, the ministry also said that polio surveillance in the country is considered among the best in the world and surpasses globally-recommended standards.
The Health Ministry said that India has been polio-free for more than 4 years and maintains "high" surveillance for polio virus detection. The country reported its last case of wild polio virus in 2011.
"India has maintained a high vigil and ensured that no complacency sets in order to maintain the polio-free status for the last 4 years. It has taken appropriate actions to ensure high population immunity against polio as well as for maintaining a sensitive surveillance system for polio virus detection," it said.