The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently confirmed that 11 polio cases of the "circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2" (cVDPV2) strain have been contracted in Haut-Katanga, Haut-Lomani, Ituri, Maniema, Mongala, and Tanganyika provinces in 2018. According to the Polio Global Eradication Initiative (PGEI), there is an increased risk of cVDPV2 spreading to nearby countries during the upcoming rainy season, affecting the region annually from October through May. Though outbreak-control measures have been implemented in affected areas, operational gaps continue to impede eradication efforts. Further spread of the outbreak is possible in the coming weeks.
A public health emergency was declared in February 2018 when cVDPV2 was detected in 21 cases of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), a sudden onset of paralysis in children under 15 years old. A total of 33 polio cases have been reported in the DRC since the outbreak began in 2017. cVDPV2 is a rare strain of polio that is genetically modified from the oral polio vaccine (OPV) strain and typically contracted in under-vaccinated populations with inadequate sanitation.
Poliomyelitis, or Polio, is an infectious disease caused by the transmission of the poliovirus through the intestines. The poliovirus is typically transmitted from one person to another by ingesting food or water containing infected fecal matter; in rare instances, it can be spread through infected saliva. Most poliovirus infections are asymptomatic while minor symptoms include fever, headache, and sore throat. One percent of infections enter the central nervous system, causing neck, back, and extremity pain, vomiting, and lethargy.
Individuals in the DRC, particularly those in the abovementioned areas, are advised to monitor developments to the situation and to verify their vaccination status.
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