Polio case from vaccine confirmed in Mali, West Africa: WHO

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Sep 08, 2015 06:00 AM EDT

Chris Hondros / Staff
Caption:RIMIN GADO, NIGERIA - APRIL 10: A boy is given a drop of polio vaccine during a nationwide innoculation April 10, 2005 in Rimin Gado, Nigeria. Polio, a disease that health workers once had hoped to eradicate worldwide by 2005, is on the rise in Nigeria, especially in this region, where local Islamic leaders banned the polio vaccine two years ago over post Sept. 11 suspicions of everything Western. Innoculations have resumed, and this weekend Nigeria is undergoing a massive countrywide push to innoculate every child under five in the country--nearly 40 million doses of polio vaccine countrywide in four days. The 50th anniversary of the approval of the polio vaccine is April 12. (Photo : Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

A child from Bamako, Mali has been paralyzed by a vaccine-derived polio virus. It is the country's first polio case in over four years according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The New York Times reports that the pediatric patient is a Guinean native who traveled to the capital city of Mali, Bamako to seek medical attention. The polio strain of the child closely matches the virus that was last seen in Guinea in 2014. The last polio case in Mali was in 2011. The outlet added that the mutated strain comes from a weakened virus strain used in oral polio vaccine.

"As soon as the new virus was identified, immediate actions were taken to initiate appropriate and targeted immunization activities that are in line with the recent Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) guidelines," said Dr. Lucien Manga, WHO representative for Mali, via a press release published by the international agency.

"The Government of Guinea and partners are informed and we have started evaluating all available resources to prepare for the campaign," said deputy WHO representative Dr. Mamoudou Harouna Djingarey. 

WHO said that the emergency response is to conduct at least three polio campaigns to stop the spread of the disease. All children under five years old must be vaccinated thrice during the duration of the polio campaigns. The first round of immunization will start in Mali and then in Guinea beginning this week.

According to Reuters the infection comes from the excrement of people vaccinated through oral polio drops. Those who are at high-risk of being infected contract the virus through sewage or dirty water.

"The risk of spread is considered to be high in both countries due to low rates of vaccination coverage in both Mali and Guinea," Cory Couillard, a spokesperson for WHO, told the outlet. "Both countries are taking coordinated emergency response measures to bring the outbreak to an end quickly."

According to the figures by WHO, Guinea's polio vaccination rates in 2014 decreased from 63 percent to 42 percent due to Ebola outbreak. According to Yahoo News, there have been cases of "wild polio" in several African countries including Nigeria and Madagascar.

Polio is a contagious viral illness that can lead to breathing difficulties, paralysis and death. Some symptoms of polio according to Mayo Clinic include: sore throat, vomiting, fever, headache, meningitis, neck and back pain, arms and legs stiffness, and muscle weakness. There is no cure, but there are preventive vaccines that can immunize a person from getting the disease.

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