SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

WHO, Myanmar officials respond to two polio reports

Published reports indicate two cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) in Myanmar province as of Nov. 7.

The reports, provided to the World Health Organization (WHO), pinpointed a 16-month-old boy who had been unvaccinated against polio, and a 28-month-old child, who was identified in April 2015 as having poliovirus. These cases, according to health care workers, are isolated to the township in Rakhine state.

The strategic response to these reported cases is to encourage vaccination. Reported national vaccination rates are estimated to be 76 percent, but does not account for those especially vulnerable to or at risk for contracting polio, including the elderly and small and infant children.

Vaccination forestalls outbreaks, but does not prevent them. In this reported case, an outbreak plan is a second response by the Myanmar Ministry of Health, the WHO and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Widespread vaccination and disease education comprise the plan, which aims to provide health care and appropriate vaccination to all who can receive it. Exceptions are the terminally ill and those opposed to vaccination for religious reasons.

In addition to this response plan, the WHO advises those who travel to report any change in health to local or state health care authorities to track the potential for outbreaks. This method of in-the-wild reporting can aid health care workers in tracing disease origins and help bring about more effective containment approaches.

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