SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

WHO reports wild poliovirus outbreak in Africa

The World Health Organization reported on Wednesday that there has been an outbreak of a wild poliovirus type 1 in the Horn of Africa.

Polio, also known as poliomyelitis, is an acute viral infectious disease that comes in a variety of strands and is spread from person to person by fecal matter passing orally into the mouth. Ninety percent of people who are infected with polio show no symptoms, but those who do develop symptoms face severe afflictions including paralysis of the legs. Polio can easily be avoided by early vaccination.

The WHO is asking for enhanced surveillance across the countries in the Horn of Africa to find suspected cases. It is urging the countries there to find any surveillance gaps so the virus' location can be found and aid can be given to those who need it.

The case that caused the alarm came from a four-month-old girl near Dadaab, Kenya. She developed symptoms of acute flaccid paralysis on April 30. Two healthy contacts of the child were confirmed to also have the virus.

This is the first instance of laboratory confirmed cases of the WPV1 virus since July 2011. An investigation to the outbreak is currently ongoing.