Thursday, May 23, 2013

Polio outbreak hits Horn of Africa

The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1), the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a dispatch obtained by PANA here Wednesday.

It said a four-month-old girl near Dadaab, Kenya, developed symptoms of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) on 30 April 2013. Two healthy contacts of the child tested positive for WPV1.

According to the global health body, they are the first laboratory confirmed cases in Kenya since July 2011.

In addition, a case of WPV1 in Banadir, Somalia, was confirmed on 9 May 2013.

WHO said investigation into the outbreak is ongoing.
In response to the outbreak, the first vaccination campaign, reaching 440,000 children, began on 14 May 2013 in Somalia and a second round of vaccination is planned for 26 May 2013 in synchronization with the affected parts of Kenya.

The risk to neighbouring countries is deemed as very high, due to large-scale population movements across the Horn of Africa and persistent immunity gaps in some areas.

Dadaab hosts a major refugee camp, housing nearly 500,000 persons from across the Horn of Africa.

WHO said an alert for enhanced surveillance for polio has been issued to all countries across the Horn of Africa, highlighting the need to conduct active searches for any suspected cases.

All countries are urged to rapidly identify sub-national surveillance gaps and to take measures to fill the gaps.

In 2005, polio spread east across the African continent, and into Yemen and the Horn of Africa, resulting in over 700 cases.

Since then, international outbreak responses have been adopted and new monovalent and bivalent oral polio vaccines have been developed, which can significantly reduce the severity and length of polio outbreaks.

In view of the break, WHO has recommended that all travellers to and from polio-infected areas be fully vaccinated against polio.

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Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.