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Polio Cases Detected in Argentina, India, Nigeria, Uganda

News outlets in several countries recently reported on new cases of polio, including in places where the disease is not endemic. Summaries of the articles appear below.

  • Argentina
    : On Tuesday, Argentina’s Public Health Ministry issued a warning and highlighted polio prevention recommendations after an infant was diagnosed with polio in San Luis province, Prensa Latina reports. The child had a “rare pathology that altered his immune system and allowed the onset of polio,” according to Prensa Latina. The WHO recommends that 95 percent of infants and school-age children receive vaccinations in order to effectively prevent the spread of the disease. A health worker said vaccination efforts in Argentina need to be scaled up because some areas only have 85 percent coverage (Prensa Latina, 6/2). The Buenos Aires Herald reported that this is the first case of polio in the country in 15 years (Buenos Aires Herald, 6/2) while Prensa Latina reported that it was the first case in 25 years (Prensa Latina, 6/2).
  • India : India has reported 18 cases of wild poliovirus type 1 so far this year, which is more than double the five cases that were reported during the same period last year, Indianexpress.com reports. A total of 59 cases of polio have been diagnosed in the country. Recently the India Expert Advisory Group, a group that advises the government about polio, said the spread of the virus could be stopped if its recommendations are implemented.  Six months ago, it recommended that polio vaccine injections be given in high-risk districts in Uttar Pradesh, but that has yet to be implemented, Indianexpress.com reports. A senior health ministry official said that the Indian Council of Medical Research is studying the efficacy of polio vaccines (Thacker, Indianexpress.com, 6/3).
  • Nigeria : Health workers are blaming the “sudden outbreak” of polio in Nigeria’s Benue State on a lack of cooperation from council chairmen, the Vanguard reports. Council chairmen have “persistently refused to cooperate with those saddled with the responsibilities of ensuring that Benue children were properly immunized against childhood killer diseases,” according to the Vanguard. The health workers said, “Even when we get all the vaccines from donor agencies and ensure that they are distributed to all the health facilities in the state, we do not have the financial wherewithal to sensitise and mobilise the workers to the rural areas where majority of the target population are found” (Duru, Vanguard, 6/3).
  • Uganda : A 28-month-old child has been diagnosed with polio in Busaru sub-county in Uganda’s Bundibugyo district, the New Vision reports. A second case in Busaru sub-county is suspected. William Sikyewunda, the district medical officer, said a health ministry team is examining the situation. He added that there are plans to vaccinate all children in the district against polio (Mafaranga, New Vision, 6/2). Uganda’s health minister said that the government plans to begin a three-day immunization campaign on Saturday in an effort to immunize six million children younger than age five against polio and measles, the New Vision reports. The 11 billion shilling campaign, which is about $5 million, is funded by UNICEF, the WHO, the Red Cross and the Ugandan government (Magara, New Vision, 6/1).