Published On: Sat, Aug 17th, 2013

Somalia polio outbreak reaches 100 cases, ‘probably thousands more with the virus’ according to OCHA

According to the latest numbers from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the number of wild polio virus cases in Somalia has reached the 100 mark, this from a country that hadn’t seen polio since 2007. The outbreak numbers from the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) have the case count at 105.

Somalia map - CIA source

Somalia map – CIA source

In addition, neighboring Horn of Africa country, Kenya, has reported 10 cases.

Six years after the Horn of Africa nation was declared free of the virus, at least 105 cases have been confirmed in Somalia, the “worst outbreak in the world in a non-endemic country”, OCHA said in a statement reported by iol news.

“The polio outbreak plaguing Somalia has spread despite significant efforts to curb the disease,” OCHA added.

There has been areas where the people have not had access to the polio vaccine due to al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab efforts in blocking the necessary preventive measure.

While over 100 cases of children have been recorded, “the fact that this number of children show symptoms of paralysis means that there are probably thousands more with the virus, who do not have symptoms, but are capable of spreading it”, OCHA added.

This news coincides with the announcement by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) that they were closing operations in Somalia due to insecurity and violence against humanitarian aid workers.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 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.

Related story: The risk of international spread of polio from Israel ‘moderate to high’: WHO

The total polio case count from the three endemic countries, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan stands at 71 cases.

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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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