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Burundian authorities detect vaccine-linked polio outbreak

Burundian authorities detect vaccine-linked polio outbreak


London — Health officials in Burundi have declared a vaccine-related polio outbreak. It is the first time a paralytic disease has been detected in an East African country in over 30 years.

Burundian authorities confirmed in a statement on Friday that polio had been diagnosed in an unvaccinated 4-year-old child in the western part of the country, as well as two other children who had contact with the child. Officials also found traces of the virus in sewage samples, confirming polio circulation.

The virus that sickened the children turned out to be a mutant strain of polio originally derived from an oral vaccine.

The government of Burundi has declared the polio outbreak a national public health emergency and plans to launch a vaccination campaign in the coming weeks aimed at protecting all children up to the age of seven.

“We are supporting national efforts to increase polio immunization and keep children facing the debilitating effects of polio,” said Matshidiso, WHO Director for Africa. Dr. Moeti said.

The WHO said Burundian children were last vaccinated against polio in 2016, but there were no statistics on how many had been reached. The agency said it believed the country’s immunity to polio was “very low”.

The epidemic is another setback in the global effort to eradicate polio, led by the World Health Organization and its partners, which began in 1988 and aimed to eradicate polio within 12 years.

Polio is a highly contagious disease that is spread primarily through water and usually affects children under the age of five. There is no cure. The oral vaccine used in the global effort to eradicate the disease is highly effective but requires four doses.

Oral vaccines can also cause polio in about 2 to 4 children with 2 million doses. In very rare cases, a weakened virus can mutate into a more dangerous form, causing outbreaks, especially in areas with poor sanitation and low vaccination levels.

In recent years, the oral polio vaccine has caused far more cases of polio than the wild poliovirus. Last year, wealthy countries such as the United Kingdom, Israel and the United States experienced the first cases in years associated with oral vaccines.

Authorities began rolling out a new oral polio vaccine last year. This was hoped to be unlikely to mutate to a version that could cause a new epidemic. It has been found.

Across Africa, more than 400 polio cases last year were linked to oral vaccines, including in Congo. NigeriaEthiopia and Zambia.

The disease also remains stubbornly entrenched in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where transmission has not been stopped.




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