Polio has been eradicated, declares WHO

Experts have announced the eradication of the second of three forms of polio virus. While three types of wild polio virus have been detected, they are scientifically different and are known to have the same symptoms which include death and even paralysis.

Four years ago, the world was declared free of type 2. The World Health Organization has now declared the eradication of type 3. Sources however also allege, that type 1 is still circulating in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Children under five are usually affected by polio. Based on an analysis drawn by WHO, at least one in 200 cases further causes irreversible paralysis.  It can also be the cause of death, when paralysis affects breathing muscles. Experts infer there is no cure, however polio vaccine helps in protecting children for life.

Cases of wild polio have dropped by 99% since 1988. In 2015, it was announced that type 2 has been eradicated, which is 16 years later than the first case was recorded in India.

In Northern Nigeria, the last case of type 3 polio was detected and it has been seven years since then. Experts of the Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication have monitored patterns of polio cases in order to be sure that type 3 was wiped out.

“The eradication of wild polio virus type 3 is a major milestone towards a polio-free world – but we cannot relax.

“Countries must strengthen routine immunisation to protect communities, ramp up routine surveillance so that we are able to detect even the slightest risk of polio re-emerging and ensure the timeliness and quality of outbreak response in the event that a case is detected,” spoke Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa on World Polio Day.

Children who are not immune are provided with a weakened form of polio virus so that their body becomes immune to the disease. These people can however also excrete the virus which can further spread in the community.

Presently in 12 countries outbreaks of vaccine-derived polio virus is recorded: Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia.