Health

Mozambique declares first polio outbreak in 30 years |

This is the second importation of wild poliovirus into southern Africa this year, following an outbreak in Malawi in mid-February, according to the World Health Organization.WHO) Regional Office for Africa, in a press release.

The only case so far, this is the country first since 1992. At the end of March, the infected child began to become paralyzed. Genome sequencing analysis shows that the newly confirmed case is related to a strain that circulated in Pakistan in 2019, similar to the one reported in Malawi earlier this year, the WHO notes.

Poliomyelitis is transmitted mainly through contaminated water and food, or through household contact from an infected person. The virus can cause paralysis, which is sometimes fatal.

“No polio”?

The WHO stressed that the case in Mozambique and the earlier case in Malawi do not affect the certification of Africa as wild poliovirus free because the strain of the virus is not indigenous.

Africa was declared free of indigenous wild polio in August 2020 following the eradication of all forms of wild polio in the region.

The discovery of another case of wild polio in Africa raises serious concern, even if this is not surprising given the recent outbreak in Malawi. However, it shows how dangerous this virus is and how quickly it can spread,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa.

UN support

We support the governments of southern Africa in stepping up their fight against polio, including large scale and effective vaccination campaigns. to stop the virus and protect children from its harmful effects.”

In Mozambique, an investigation is underway to determine the risk associated with a new case of wild poliovirus and the necessary targeted response. Preliminary analysis of samples taken from three contacts of a newly identified case has tested negative for wild type 1 poliovirus, according to WHO.

Mozambique recently conducted two mass vaccination campaigns in response to the outbreak in Malawi, in which 4.2 million children were vaccinated. against illness.

Efforts are under way to strengthen disease surveillance in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. WHO has assured that all these countries will continue mass vaccination with plans to reach 23 million children aged five years and younger with polio vaccine in the coming weeks.

Viral foci

Wild poliovirus is only endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Polio is highly contagious and mostly affects children under the age of five. There is no cure for polio and it can only be prevented through immunization.

Children around the world remain at risk of contracting wild polio type 1 until the virus is eradicated from the last remaining areas where it is still circulating.


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