For the first time in three decades, polio infection has been detected in East African Burundi, reports the World Health Organization (WHO).
The whole of Africa was declared free of polio in August 2020 when no new cases had been found on the continent in four years. Since then, cases have been discovered in Malawi, Mozambique – and now Burundi.
According to the WHO, eight cases of polio virus type 2 have so far been detected by the Burundian health authorities in an unvaccinated four-year-old boy in the western part of the country, as well as in two other children in contact with the boy. In addition, polio type 2 has been found in five wastewater samples.
Polio is an infectious infectious disease. Most infected develop no symptoms, while others develop flu-like symptoms, vomiting and fever. For a small part of the infected cause inflammation of the spinal cord and then permanent paralysis of body parts such as the arms and legs.
The disease mainly affects small children, but can be prevented with vaccines.
"We support the national efforts to increase the rate of polio vaccination, to ensure that no child is forgotten and risks the effects of poliosis," says Matshidiso Moeti, WHO's Africa Director, in a statement.
Burundi is located in East Africa and borders Rwanda in the north, Tanzania in the east and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the west.
Facts: Polio virus
Polio is an infectious infectious disease. Most people who are infected do not develop symptoms, while others get flu-like symptoms, vomiting and fever.
For around 0.02 percent of the infected causes inflammation of the spinal cord, and then permanent paralysis of body parts such as arms or legs. The disease is fatal when the respiratory system paralyzes.
Polio vaccine is available in two variants. Inactivated vaccine (IPV), which is used in Sweden, for example, consists of killed virus particles and is given as an injection. However, in much of the world, a live vaccine consisting of weakened poliovirus strains (OPV) is used. It is given in the form of oral drops, which is cheaper and more convenient.
In very rare cases, the OPV vaccine can develop into an active virus – vaccine-derived polio (VDPV) It only happens in areas where very few are vaccinated, where the virus can circulate and be given time to mutate. In October 2019, 88 cases of vaccine-derived polio, which spread less than the original virus, had been detected worldwide.
In order to avoid vaccine-derived polio, the WHO, among other things, has advocated a gradual phasing out of the OPV vaccine.
Sources: Public Health Authority and WHO