Polio Cases Detected In Kenya, Somalia, WHO Says

The WHO “says the Horn of Africa is experiencing an outbreak of polio with cases confirmed in Kenya and Somalia,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. The “WHO said Wednesday that a four-year-old girl near the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya and two of her contacts tested positive for polio, the first confirmed cases in Kenya since July 2011,” and “[a] case in Somalia was confirmed earlier this month,” the AP writes (5/22). “Many parts of Somalia have not held polio vaccination campaigns since 2009, [the] Global Polio Eradication Initiative said, and the country, in general, has one of the lowest immunization rates in the world,” NPR’s “Shots” blog reports. “Genetic analysis suggests that the poliovirus in Somalia came from Nigeria, which is more than 3,000 miles away,” the blog writes, adding that while “[i]t’s still unknown if the Somalia case is connected with the ones in Kenya … the international health community has responded quickly to contain both outbreaks” (Doucleff, 5/22). “In response, a vaccination campaign reaching 440,000 children began May 14 in Somalia,” and “[a] second round of vaccinations is planned and will include parts of Kenya,” the AP reports (5/22). In related news, development blogger Tom Paulson interviews Apoorva Mallya, a program officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Vaccine Delivery team, in Humanosphere. They discuss the challenges to eradicating polio, particularly in the three remaining endemic countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria (5/22).

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