Features Health

Polio cases reduce to 17 in 2014

NOMSA NKANA, Lusaka
THE World Health Organisation (WHO) African Region report WILD has indicated that cases of Wild Poliovirus (WPV) commonly known as polio have reduced to 17 in 2014 compared to 74 in the same period in 2013.
The report also states that for the first time in history, no cases of WPV commonly known as Polio have been reported in the African Region in over 4 months.
According to the report in 2014, six cases of polio were reported in Nigeria, five in Cameroon, five in Equatorial Guinea, and one in Ethiopia.
WHO Regional director for Africa Dr Luís Sambo said Polio is a highly contagious, devastating disease that mainly affects children under five years of age.
Dr Sambo said it invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.
He said the virus enters the body through the mouth, multiplies in the gut, and spreads easily via faecal contaminated food and water.
According to Dr Sambo, initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs.
He said one in 200 cases of polio leads to irreversible paralysis adding that among those paralysed, 5 to 10 percent die when their breathing muscles become immobilised.
Dr Sambo, who said there is no cure for polio, also said the disease can be prevented through a cheap, effective and easily administered oral polio vaccine (OPV).
He said more than 10 million people are walking today, who would have been otherwise paralysed.
Dr Sambo said it is estimated that more than 1.5 million childhood deaths have been prevented, through the systematic administration of vitamin A during polio immunisation activities.
He, however said, more efforts by African governments and their partners are needed to ensure that new outbreaks are quickly brought under control and that high immunity levels are maintained in all populations throughout the Region.

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