Published On: Wed, May 22nd, 2013

Kenya reports polio outbreak, first confirmed cases in two years

The World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting a polio outbreak, wild poliovirus type 1( WPV1), on the Horn of Africa with confirmed cases being seen in Kenya and Somalia.

Near Dadaab, Kenya, a four-month-old girl  developed symptoms of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) on 30 April 2013.  Two healthy contacts of the child tested positive for WPV1, the WHO reports May 22.

Horn of Africa Public domain image/ Lexicon at the English Wikipedia project

Horn of Africa
Public domain image/ Lexicon at the English Wikipedia project

In addition, as reported earlier this month, a case of WPV1 was confirmed in a young girl in Banadir, Somalia about two weeks ago. 

In Somalia, this was the first case reported in six years, in Kenya, two years.

The WHO reports, in response to the outbreak, the first vaccination campaign, reaching 440 000 children began on 14 May 2013 in Somalia and a second 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.

Polio is caused by the poliovirus types 1, 2 and 3. All three types cause paralysis, with wild poliovirus type 1 being isolated from paralysis cases most often.

This viral infection is primarily spread from person to person through the fecal-oral route. However, in places where sanitation is very good,transmission though throat secretions may be considered more important.

Polio is recognized in about 1 percent of infections by flaccid paralysis, while over 90 percent of infections are unapparent.

Paralysis of poliomyelitis is usually asymmetric and the site of paralysis depends on the location of nerve cell destruction on the spinal cord or brain stem. Legs are affected more often than the arms.

Paralysis of the respiration can be life threatening.

Most cases of polio are in children under the age of three.

Prevention of polio is through immunization, either through the live oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) or the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV).

There are three countries left on the planet that have not succeeded in interrupting polio transmission and are considered endemic: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Ghana:500,000 children to be vaccinated in the W/R | Ghana Health Nest-Get Health,Get Life,Be Informed says:

    […] Kenya reports polio outbreak, first confirmed cases in two years […]

  2. Poliovirus found in Israeli sewage, CDC issues polio travel notice for Somalia and Kenya - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] two cases have been reported from Dadaab, Kenya. These are the first wild poliovirus cases confirmed in Kenya since July 2011. Dadaab hosts a major […]

  3. Gates Foundation polio chief on eradication dance: Two steps forward, one step back | Humanosphere says:

    […] an attack by the Pakistan Taliban on polio workers and two outbreaks of polio in parts of Africa, Kenya and earlier in Somalia, previously free of the insidious, infectious […]

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