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Published On: Tue, Jul 2nd, 2013

Somalia polio outbreak rises to 25, accounts for one-third of global cases

The polio (wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1)) outbreak in the horn of Africa nation of Somalia has grown to 25 cases since the first case in six years was reported back in April, according to data from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

The majority of the cases are reported from Banadir, which is considered the “epicenter” of the current outbreak.

Poliovirus Credits:   CDC

Poliovirus Credits: CDC

The most recent case, reported at the end of May, had onset of paralysis according to the GPEI.

The Horn of Africa, not an endemic area for WPV1, has recorded a total of 31 cases, 25 in Somalia and six in Kenya.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, countries across the Horn of Africa are now at risk of this outbreak because of large-scale population movements and persistent immunity gaps in some areas. Immunization campaigns are on-going in both Somalia and Kenya. Immunization campaigns are also planned or being conducted in other areas across the Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia and Yemen.

According to the CDC, polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disease caused by a virus that affects a person’s nervous system. Polio is mainly spread by ingesting items contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Polio can also be spread through, water, other drinks and uncooked food. The disease mainly affects children less than 5 years old, but unvaccinated people of any age are at risk. Even though most infected people have no symptoms, signs and symptoms of severe illness may include paralysis of limbs and respiratory muscles.

Year-to-date, globally there has been 77 cases of polio with 46 reported from endemic countries.

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 regularly writes about infectious disease news for Examiner.com and administers the Outbreak News section of The Global Dispatch.

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