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Papua New Guinea Affected By Polio After 18 Years, WHO

Web Desk(June 27, 2018): A polio outbreak has been confirmed in Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea, the World Health Organization reported Monday.

Papua New Guinea had been certified polio-free since 2000, along with the rest of WHO’s Western Pacific Region.

The virus was suspected as the cause of lower limb weakness in a 6-year-old boy in Morobe Province in April; in May, the diagnosis was confirmed. The same strain of virus was detected in stool specimens of two healthy children living in the community by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which confirmed the outbreak on Friday.

The total of three cases prompted the declaration of an outbreak.

WHO also determined that the strain of poliovirus detected in the children — vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 — is circulating in the community. Three provinces — Morobe, Eastern Highlands, Madang — have been identified as “most high risk,” said Dr. Mohammad Salim Reza, a WHO technical officer in Papua New Guinea. The nation’s deputy prime minister declared a “polio outbreak as National Health Emergency on 26 June and allocated 6.7 million Kina for the response,” said Reza, who added that half a million US dollars were allocated from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to support the country.

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