Monday, November 14, 2011

Polio Outbreak: Denied by UN in Madagascar, Confirmed by WHO in China

"No matter how long a country has been polio-free, as long as global polio eradication has not yet been achieved, the risk for importation remains and constant vigilance is required," states Helen Yu of the World Health Organization in Beijing.

China experienced a polio outbreak during the last week of October of this year with ten confirmed cases, six occurring in children under three years of age. According to the World Health Organization, this infectious strain of WPV1 is genetically similar to the strain that was circulating in Paksitan. The last case of polio infection in China was over a decade ago, in 1999, when a strain of polio was imported from India. This reaffirms the notion that disease eradication is only possible when the eradication refers to an international level- otherwise, the risk of disease importation remains a viable possibility.

A few countries away, during the same time frame, Madagascar faced a polio outbreak- this outbreak, however, was caused by a wild type. Days after the initial report was released, Unicef made a clarification stating that the infection was in fact vaccine-induced. There were three reported cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus that were partially attributed to low immunity on behalf of the population in the island of Madagascar. This low immunity, is in part due to a combination of the recent fuel shortages that don’t allow for proper storage and refrigeration of the vaccine and a reduction of 250 clinics which have led to a drop in vaccination rates to less to 40% in the southern part of the country. During a nine year period (2000-2009), Madagascar experienced 14 vaccine-derived polio cases leading to 400 confirmed polio cases. Not to mention, 14,000 children who have not been immunized as a result of the financial situation and lack of resources, were paralyzed by the virus.

"Outbreak Notice: Polio"

"Madagascar: UN denies polio outbreak"

-Angela CeseƱa

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