Health alert issued as polio is detected in Somalia

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Oral polio vaccine being administered (Credit: WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO), has issued a polio surveillance alert for all of Somalia, northern Kenya and eastern Ethiopia.

The alert follows the confirmation that a 32 month old girl taken ill in the Banadir region of south eastern Somalia, was infected with the wild polio virus.

This is the first polio case to be reported in Somalia in over 6 years.

WHO is urging its member states in Africa and the Mediterranean region, to heighten their surveillance for the polio virus.

A major polio vaccination campaign targeting children under the age of five is being undertaken in the all 16 districts of Banadir region.

Glenn Tomas from WHO, says substantial areas of central and southern Somalia have not conducted vaccination activities since 2009, and the confirmation of wild polio virus circulation, would constitute a serious national and international risk to public health.

"The virus was isolated from specimens collected from a 32-month-old girl, who became ill due to acute flaccid paralysis on 18 April 2013, We will be starting a vaccination campaign and that is being planned to begin between today to the 16 May and will reach more than 350,000 children under the age of five in all the 16 districts of the region." 

WHO's International Travel and Health Regulations recommends that all travelers to and from polio-infected areas be fully vaccinated against polio.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva

Duration 1.31″


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