The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced plans to launch a massive polio vaccination campaign in Africa. This follows last week’s outbreak in Uganda, a country that was declared polio-free in 2006.
The first case was documented in Uganda’s eastern district of Bugiri, where a two-year-old girl tested positive for Wild Polio Virus Type 1 in late September. Experts believe that the child’s illness is linked to a case in Kenya’s Turkana region, which was discovered in February last year.
The polio virus is transmitted through food or water that has been contaminated with fecal material containing the virus. In its acute form, sufferers present with acute fever, followed by a weakness in the limbs. Experts estimate that only 1 child in 100 infected will develop the acute state.
Experts believe that the virus has been spreading from Turkana to Kenya’s border regions, which include eastern Uganda. The Ministry of Health now worries that 48 districts bordering Kenya are either at risk or already have unreported cases.
Uganda’s two incidents of polio in the last year are believed to have originated from outside. The case in February is thought to have been imported from Sudan. Congolese refugees seeking asylum in Uganda also pose a threat, as the country reported multiple cases of polio last year.
The Ugandan Government’s financial shortages are a cause for concern. However, it will be collaborating with the WHO to execute a mass immunization starting this month.