Myanmar announces mass polio vaccination plan

After a seven-month-old baby was diagnosed with polio, the first case in three years in Myanmar, the country has announced a mass vaccination.

The United Nations International Children’s Fund said one case should be enough to trigger an emergency response, AFP reports. Health officials in Myanmar immediately inoculated 10,000 children in the Mandalay region after the disease was suspected there in 2010.

"This case of polio detected in December was very unfortunate as Myanmar was about to officially receive the polio-free status in December 2010," Ramesh Shrestha, a UNICEF representative in Myanmar, said, according to AFP.

The United Nations said that the diagnosis of this newest case found that it was a strain that had genetically mutated from the type found in the oral polio vaccine.

According to the World Health Organization, in rare cases, an immunized person can transmit the disease to others and, in very rare cases, the disease can mutate into a form that can cause paralysis.

Two more cases, one in the Mandalay area and one further south in Mon State, have tested negative, AFP reports.

The WHO is already in the country to help determine how to proceed to stop the virus’ spread. It is believed that the mass vaccination will either target 3.4 million children living in specific areas or that there will be a national campaign to vaccinate seven million children.

Myanmar’s health ministry has been in this situation before. In 2007, it organized a campaign that reached 6.7 million children.