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Somalia reports first wild poliovirus type 1 case since 2007
The Global Dispatch
Sunday, May 12, 2013

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The wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) that was detected in a young girl from the Banadir region of Somalia has prompted an investigation into the situation, according to a World Health Organization alert today.

According to a preliminary report, the virus was isolated from specimens collected on 21 April 2013 from a 32-month-old girl, who became ill due to acute flaccid paralysis on 18 April 2013, and from specimens collected from 3 of her close contacts.

This is the first WPV to be reported from Somalia since 25 March 2007.

An investigation team is on site; genetic sequencing of the virus is on-going to determine its origin. The preliminary results of these investigations will be reported as soon as possible, according to the WHO.

Given that substantial areas of central and southern Somalia have not conducted vaccination activities since 2009, the confirmation of WPV circulation would constitute a serious national and international risk to public health.

A surveillance alert has been issued for countries bordering Somalia.

An immediate vaccination response with oral polio vaccine (OPV) is being planned to begin on May 14-16 to reach more than 350,000 children under the age of five in all the 16 districts of Banadir region, with a series of subsequent activities, including nationwide OPV campaigns, under discussion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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.

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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