First African polio cases in two years reported in Nigeria

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Mothers bring their children to be vaccinated against polio at a market place vaccination point during a polio vaccination campaign. Photo: UNICEF/Kate Holt

The first cases of polio in Africa for two years have been reported in Nigeria, leaving two children paralyzed in the northern Borno State.

The last confirmed case discovered on the continent was in July 2014, in Nigeria.

The Nigerian government said it was collaborating with the World Health Organization and other partners to prevent any spread of the deadly virus.

Matthew Wells reports.

The Nigerian government said it would take immediate steps to try and ensure that the wild poliovirus outbreak is contained. 

These measures will include large-scale immunization campaigns, and strengthening surveillance systems.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said the organization was "deeply saddened" by the news of the children left paralyzed in Nigeria, pointing out that the country had made "significant strides"  to wipe out the disease in recent years.

He added that the "overriding priority" now should be a rapid immunization campaign.

The director of polio eradication at WHO headquarters, Michel Zaffran, said that he was confident that with "a swift response and strong collaboration", polio could be eradicated "once and for all" in Nigeria.

As recently as 2012, Nigeria accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide. 

This year, only 21 wild polio cases have been reported in two other countries; Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Matthew Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1’48″

Filed under Today's News.
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