SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Polio virus detected in Somalia

The World Health Organization issued a polio surveillance alert on Tuesday for all of Somalia, eastern Ethiopia and northern Kenya after a 32-month-old girl took ill in southeastern Somalia.

The report confirmed that the girl was infected with the wild poliovirus in Somalia's Banadir region. The case was the first reported in Somalia in more than six years.

The WHO is urging its member states in the Mediterranean region and in Africa to increase surveillance for the polio virus. Somalia is conducting a major polio vaccination campaign in all 16 districts of the Banadir region.

Significant areas of southern and central Somalia have not conducted vaccination activities since 2009. The confirmation of wild poliovirus circulating in Somalia would represent a serious international and national public health risk.

"The virus was isolated from specimens collected from a 32-month-old girl, who became ill due to acute flaccid paralysis on April 18," Glenn Tomas, a WHO representative, said. We will be starting a vaccination campaign and that is being planned to begin between today (through) May 16 and will reach more than 350,000 children under the age of five in all the 16 districts of the region."

WHO's International Travel and Health Regulations recommends that all travelers to and from polio-infected areas be completely vaccinated against the disease.