Sewage checks will reveal the truth: Polio virus could be spreading throughout the North East

Image - London Sewage Works: Tom Falcon Harding/shutterstock

Image - London Sewage Works: Tom Falcon Harding/shutterstock

Polio virus could be spreading throughout the UK’s North East region as the virus was repeatedly found in sewage samples collected from the London Beckton Sewage Treatment Works which covers parts of North and East London, as reported by The Chronicle Live

Polio is a potentially life-threatening or disabling illness that is highly contagious spreads usually from hands contaminated with the stool of an infected person. Symptoms often include a high temperature, extreme tiredness, headaches, vomiting, a stiff neck, and muscle pain. 

The UK Health Security Agency are now working with the Medicines and Healthcare product Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to expand surveillance to other areas of the country, including parts of Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Brighton and Hove, City of Bristol, Bury, Castle Point, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, North Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead, Nottingham, Preston, Salford, Sheffield and Watford.

The UKHSA have assured residents of these areas that the sewage checks are being carried out “on a precautionary basis to determine whether the virus is spreading to other areas”. The chosen areas have been selected depending on risk assessment and other factors like population demographics. Many of these areas have links to countries overseas which are affected by poliovirus or where live oral polio vaccine is still administrated, or with areas with low polio vaccination coverage or that have pockets of under-vaccinated communities. 

According to Harvard Medical School, “sampling of wastewater for genetic material from viruses is a powerful tool used by epidemiologists to track outbreaks of polio and other diseases.”. For example, “surges in the amount of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in Boston wastewater have been highly predictive of COVID outbreaks.”

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Image - Annie Dabb
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Annie Dabb

From Newcastle originally, Annie is based in Manchester and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a story you want to share? Then get in touch at