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11/11/10

"Most of the cases have involved young adults aged between 15 and 29.


Acute polio outbreak kills nearly 100 in Congo: WHO
(Reuters) - Polio has killed nearly 100 people, mainly young adults, in the Republic of Congo and paralyzed more than twice as many in the past six weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

The crippling viral disease normally strikes children under five years of age, making the acute, fast-spreading outbreak unusual, the U.N. agency said.

"Most of the cases have involved young adults aged between 15 and 29. This illustrates that populations are at risk because they have not been exposed to a full immunization," it said.

It marks the latest setback to a global campaign begun more than 20 years ago to wipe out polio, for which there is no cure, only preventive vaccines.

The death toll in the central African state is 97 with a further 226 people paralyzed, and most victims are in the port city of Pointe Noire. The mortality rate is higher than normal for the disease, which attacks the nervous system.

The virus is now confirmed as having reached Congo from Angola after it also spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year, WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer said.

It comes from a strain from India, one of four remaining endemic countries -- where the virus survives and its spread has never been interrupted -- along with Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

A first wave of mass polio vaccination campaigns, targeting 3 million people of all ages, is set to begin on Friday in Congo and parts of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

"This way we can be assured that everybody is reached, including young adults, whose immunity may be low," said Luis Sambo, WHO's regional director for Africa.

The WHO warned last month that a persistent outbreak of polio that began in Angola in 2007 could spread internationally due to poorly managed vaccination campaigns.

An epidemic this year in Tajikistan, a Central Asian state, accounts for 458 of 767 cases confirmed so far in 19 countries, Rosenbauer said. There were a 1,604 cases worldwide in 2009.

Pakistan is the only endemic country to have higher numbers of cases this year, with 111 against 76 at this time last year, he said. Record floods and poor sanitation are blamed.

Namibia had a polio outbreak among adults in 2006 but managed to stop its spread within 50 days.

The WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been working together since 1988 to eradicate polio, which infected at least 350,000 people in 125 endemic countries each year at the time. But their initial target of the year 2000 proved over-optimistic.

(Editing by Jonathan Lynn and David Stamp)




WHO Country Offices in the WHO African Region

WHO has offices in the following countries in the WHO African Region.
Countries marked in yellow in the map are outside the WHO African Region.http://www.afro.who.int/en/countries.html




Polio this week - As of Tuesday November 9


  • The Republic of Congo is experiencing an explosive outbreak of polio: although official data had not arrived in WHO HQ as of writing, at least 201 cases of acute flaccid paralysis and 104 deaths have been reported. Laboratory testing confirms that at least five of the AFP cases are caused by wild poliovirus (WPV1) and genetic sequencing shows that the virus is related to that circulating in Angola.
  • The first outbreak response starts on 12 November, targeting the port city of Pointe Noire and the neighbouring Department of Kouilou. Due to the large number of adult victims, all ages are being vaccinated. The rest of the country will be covered starting 18 November.
  • The number of cases globally is 767, half the number at this time last year (1337), largely due to progress in Nigeria (97% reduction) and India (93% reduction).


 Wild poliovirus (WPV) cases



Wild poliovirus-infected districts, 2009–2010


http://www.polioeradication.org/Dataandmonitoring/Poliothisweek/Polioinfecteddistricts.aspx

Polio eradication this week

  • BRAZZAVILLE/DAKAR, 11 November 2010 – The first wave of mass polio immunization campaigns  targeting 3 million people of all ages  begins on Friday (12 November) to address an unusual outbreak of polio that is primarily claiming victims amongst adults. The campaign will take place in the coastal port city of Pointe Noire and in the Department of Kouilou in the Republic of Congo, 16 districts in the neighbouring province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and over the border in Angola.
    This is the first vaccination response to a large and lethal polio outbreak in the Republic of Congo. Latest figures from 9 November, record a cumulative total of 226 cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) with an unusually high death toll of 97. To date, four of the AFP cases have been confirmed as polio. 
    Read the full story and the background on Disease Outbreak News


New bivalent polio vaccine playing key role in global polio eradication

Immunogenicity of bivalent types 1 and 3 oral poliovirus vaccine: a randomised, double-blind, controlled trial<BR>Immunogenicity of bivalent types 1 and 3 oral poliovirus vaccine: a randomised, double-blind, controlled trial



A head to head trial against current poliovirus vaccines has found that the new bivalent oral vaccine against poliovirus, which targets both the remaining types of poliovirus concurrently, induces a stronger immune response than the traditional trivalent vaccine and a similar immune response to the latest monovalent (monovalent type 1 or monovalent type 3)  vaccines. Furthermore, it is easier to administer, allowing children... Full story

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