On Tuesday, June 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that there have been two confirmed cases of polio in Haut-Lomani province and three confirmed cases in Maniema province since February 2017. Multiple other suspected cases are being monitored. Four of the five cases involved individuals experiencing acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). According to the WHO's risk assessment, there is a high risk of the disease spreading nationally and medium risk of it spreading internationally.
The DRC Ministry of Health and WHO are finalizing response plans that include searching for additional cases of AFP and providing supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) as well as the monovalent oral polio vaccine type 2 (mOPV2), as outlined by international outbreak protocols.
Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the central nervous system and can result in paralysis. The virus is transmitted mainly through the fecal-oral route and primarily affects children under the age of five. This particular strain of polio generally exists in areas with poor vaccination rates.
While a global campaign to end polio was largely successful, the disease continues to circulate in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Individuals in the DRC are advised to verify their vaccination status and monitor the situation.