JERUSALEM (JTA) — A strain of the polio virus was found in wastewater near Hadera, meaning the virus has spread to the north of Israel.
The discovery comes two weeks into a national vaccination project to inoculate Israeli children aged 9 and under with a weakened form of the live virus. The vaccination project, scheduled to last three months, has been expanded from southern Israel to central and northern Israel.
As of Wednesday, 182,000 children have been vaccinated with the live virus. The children already have been inoculated against polio in their regular childhood vaccinations.
The campaign is in response to the discovery in May of the polio virus in wastewater in Israel’s South that reportedly had been there since February. The virus was found about a month ago in wastewater in central Israel.
The purpose of the extra vaccine is to pass the weakened virus to adults with whom the children come into contact who may not previously have been vaccinated.
It is believed the virus was brought to Israel from Egypt; polio was discovered in sewage in Egypt in December. The same virus also is prevalent in Pakistan.
Israel experienced its last case of polio in 1988.