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SASTM Newsflash - Wild poliovirus in the Horn of Africa / Pakistan: violence against vaccination workers


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Wild poliovirus in the Horn of Africa - 22 May 2013


The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1). A 4-month-old girl near Dadaab, Kenya, developed symptoms of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) on [30 Apr 2013]. 2 healthy contacts of the child tested positive for WPV1. They are the 1st laboratory confirmed cases in Kenya since July 2011. Investigation into this outbreak is ongoing.


In addition, a case of WPV1 in Banadir [Banaadir], Somalia was confirmed on 9 May 2013.


In response to the outbreak, the 1st vaccination campaign, reaching 440 000 children began on 14 May 2013 in Somalia and a 2nd round of vaccination is planned for 26 May 2013 in synchronization with the affected parts of Kenya.


The risk to neighbouring countries is deemed as very high, due to large-scale population movements across the Horn of Africa and persistent immunity gaps in some areas. Dadaab hosts a major refugee camp, housing nearly 500 000 persons from across the Horn of Africa.


An alert for enhanced surveillance for polio has been issued to all countries across the Horn of Africa, highlighting the need to conduct active searches for any suspected cases. All countries are urged to rapidly identify sub-national surveillance gaps and to take measures to fill the gaps.


In 2005, polio spread east across the African continent, and into Yemen and the Horn of Africa, resulting in over 700 cases. Since then, international outbreak responses have been adopted and new monovalent and bivalent oral polio vaccines have been developed, which can significantly reduce the severity and length of polio outbreaks.


Some areas of Somalia (south-central) are also affected by an outbreak due to circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2), which has resulted in 18 cases in Somalia since 2009. In 2012, this strain spread to Dadaab, causing 3 cases.


WHO's International Travel and Health recommends that all travellers to and from polio-infected areas be fully vaccinated against polio.


[New information in the report above since the last update is that 2 healthy contacts of the polio case in Dadaab, Kenya were found to be positive carriers of WPV1 [wild poliovirus type 1]. The reminder of the high population movement in the area and the potential impact of circulation of WPV1 in the area is sobering.


Pakistan (Federal Administered Tribal Areas): violence against vaccination workers

Date: Mon 20 May 2012


Officials say gunmen have killed a policeman guarding a polio vaccination team in northwestern Pakistan.


Local government administrator Faramosh Khan says the gunmen attacked on Monday [20 May 2013] in the town of Mamound in the Bajur [Bajaur] tribal area [Federal Administered Tribal Areas], just as the team started a vaccination drive.


No one has claimed responsibility for the shooting, but suspicion will likely fall on Islamic militants suspected in similar attacks.


Jehanzeb Dawar, a senior regional health official, said a total of 624 teams are taking part in the latest push in Bajur to vaccinate more than 220 000 children. The teams re-launched the drive after taking a couple of months off because of past attacks on vaccination teams in the country.


It's unclear whether the campaign will continue after Monday's [20 May 2013] attack.


Communicated by: ProMED-mail


(The continued violence against vaccination workers in the known polio endemic areas [Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan] does not bode well for the polio eradication effort. This moderator is unable to comprehend the mentality that permits acts of violence against humanitarian and public health workers)





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The content and opinions are neither pre-screened nor endorsed by the SASTM. The content should neither be interpreted nor quoted as inherently accurate or authoritative.

The information provided in SASTM Newsflashes is collected from various news sources, health agencies and government agencies. Although the information is believed to be accurate, any express or implied warranty as to its suitability for any purpose is categorically disclaimed. In particular, this information should not be construed to serve as medical advice for any individual. The health information provided is general in nature, and may not be appropriate for all persons. Medical advice may vary because of individual differences in such factors as health risks, current medical conditions and treatment, allergies, pregnancy and breast feeding, etc. In addition, global health risks are constantly evolving and changing. International travelers should consult a qualified physician for medical advice prior to departure.

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