More poliovirus cases in South Sudan, Madagascar

Poliovirus outbreaks in South Sudan and Madagascar
Poliovirus outbreaks in South Sudan and Madagascar

Health professionals have confirmed more poliovirus cases in South Sudan and Madagascar, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday.

Two of the cases, both circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses type 2 (cVDPV2), occurred in South Sudan’s Unity state. Both of the patients, whose paralyses began in early September, are in the same internally displaced persons camp. Civil unrest has displaced much of the state’s population and interfered with vaccination programs. 

WHO experts have reassured the public that there is a low risk of the South Sudan cases spreading to other countries.

Madagascar’s poliovirus case is linked to vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVPDV1). Doctors identified symptoms of paralysis on Sept. 29.

The WHO said it is unlikely that this latest virus strain will spread internationally.

Responding to a regional poliovirus outbreak in Africa, South Sudan imposed two National Immunization Days in April and May with another held earlier this month, and two more planned for December and January. Health care workers are trying to simultaneously stem the cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus 2 while also boosting immunity to other types of poliovirus. 

Madagascar last conducted vaccinations in December 2011 and January 2012. In light of the recent cases, health officials scheduled more inoculation dates for January 2015.

WHO reports that 33 percent of the children living in Unity state are not vaccinated adequately for poliovirus. In Madagascar, 25 percent of the children are under-vaccinated for poliovirus.

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World Health Organization

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