Polio Cases in Africa Increased 144%, CDC Report Says
Cases of polio in Africa increased 144% between 2007 and 2008 mainly because of an increase in the number of cases in Angola, Chad, Nigeria and Sudan, according to a CDC report released Thursday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, United Press International reports.
In 2007 there were 387 cases of polio in Africa and in 2008 there were 946 cases, according to the report. As of March 24, there had been 96 importations of wild poliovirus in 15 countries in west central Africa, the Horn of Africa and south central Africa since 2008, the report said, adding that most of these cases were caused by importations of wild poliovirus that originated in Nigeria.
CDC said that Angola, Chad, Nigeria and Sudan have "serious weaknesses in health infrastructure and require specific efforts to strengthen their fight against wild poliovirus circulation." The agency added that until polio is eradicated, "other countries need to have sensitive surveillance and plans to rapidly respond if imported wild poliovirus is found" (UPI, 4/16).
In related news, Uganda's Ministry of Health has vaccinated about 130,000 children over its goal of vaccinating 2.2 million children younger than age five in 29 districts in northern Uganda with the highest risk of polio transmission, the Observer reports.
The health ministry worked with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to implement the first phase of the vaccination campaign. A second and third phase is scheduled for April and May. This campaign had 100% in 10 of the 29 districts, according to the Observer.
The vaccination campaign is a response to new cases of polio in Uganda that were identified in February. Seven cases have been reported so far (Echwalu, Observer, 4/15).