Maharashtra: Dealing a severe blow to the government's efforts to make the country polio-free, an 11-month-old boy succumbed to the dreaded virus in a government hospital, an official said on Sunday.

The victim, Rohit R. Shelke, who was detected as "polio positive" around two weeks ago, took his last breath on Saturday at the Maharashtra Institute of Medical Science and Research (MIMSR), Latur, MIMSR dean Deepti Dongaonkar said.

The child hailed from Khanapur village in Dharur block of Beed district, some 140 km from here, in the backward Marathwada region of the state.

According to health officials, the child was paralyzed on May 4 and was admitted to the SRTR Hospital in Ambejogai, Beed, where doctors suspected that he could be polio-positive.

Earlier this month, a World Health Organisation (WHO) team reached Beed and collected stool and other samples from the child. Later, the samples were tested at the MIMSR, Latur, which diagnosed the child as having 'P2' polio virus.

"It could be a case of vaccine-derived polio virus," Dongoankar said.

Considered the rarest of rare cases, this is the first incidence of polio in Maharashtra and the third in the country after Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the past more than three years.

Taking serious note of the development, the state health department has collected over three dozen stool samples from the children of the village where the victim lived.

Medical officials apprehend that the virus may have become active in children having low immunity and could also be an outcome of low vaccination.

An official said the government would convene a meeting of top health officials to discuss the issue and intensify efforts to prevent a recurrence of polio in the state in future by identifying and plugging leaks in the high-risk categories.


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