Malawi has declared a polio outbreak after a three-year-old girl was diagnosed with the virus.
This is the first case of wild poliovirus in Africa in more than five years, World Health Organization bosses said.
Lab analysis showed the strain detected in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe was linked to one that has been circulating in Pakistan, where the disease is still endemic.
‘As an imported case from Pakistan, this detection does not affect the African region’s wild poliovirus-free certification status,’ WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti said.
He adding that the WHO was taking urgent measures to prevent polio spreading.
‘Thanks to a high level of polio surveillance in the continent and the capacity to quickly detect the virus, we can swiftly launch a rapid response and protect children from the debilitating impact of this disease,’ he said.
The Malawian girl began exhibiting paralysis symptoms on November 19 and stool samples to detect the virus were sent off to labs in South Africa and the US as part of polio surveillance efforts.
Polio was officially eliminated in Africa in 2016, with the last case detected in Nigeria, where vaccination efforts were hampered by Boko Haram jihadists.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, John Ely