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  • World - Africa
  • Updated: February 18, 2022

Malawi Declares First Wild Poliovirus Case In Africa In Five Years

Malawi has declared an outbreak of polio after a young child in the country’s capital, Lilongwe, developed the disease.

This is the first case of the wild poliovirus in Africa in more than five years.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on Thursday, that the strain found in the child has been linked to one circulating in Pakistan where the virus remains endemic.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa said in a statement; “As long as wild polio exists anywhere in the world, all countries remain at risk of importing the virus.”

“Following the detection of wild polio in Malawi, we are taking urgent measures to forestall its potential spread.”

Dr. Modjirom Ndoutabe, polio coordinator in the WHO Regional Office for Africa also added that; “The last case of wild poliovirus in Africa was identified in northern Nigeria in 2016 and globally there were only five cases in 2021. Any case of wild poliovirus is a significant event and we will mobilize all resources to support the country’s response.”

Polio is a highly infectious disease that is usually spread through contaminated water or food. It can cause total paralysis within hours. There is no cure for the disease, but an effective vaccine was developed in the 1950s.

According to GPEI data, since 1988, worldwide cases of the virus have dropped by 99 percent, from more than 350,000 to just five cases in Afghanistan and Pakistan last year.

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Quadri Adejumo
Quadri Adejumo

Quadri Adejumo is a reporter and a column writer. He covers news on World, Diaspora and Health.

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