May 22, 2006

Poliovirus is back

Congo was about to receive, in 2006, a certificate announcing to complete eradication of the Polio Virus. However, according to a Ministry of Health Report in May 2006, one case of poliovirus, type 1 was isolated in a laboratory in the Boma-Bungu health zone, in the province of Bas-Congo that shares a large border with Angola.

What's frustrating is that it was so close to disappearing: during two years (2003, 2005), the DRC had organized National Vaccination Days with vaccination coverage reaching 105% and 99%* each.

But it's going to be near impossible to make poliovirus disappear in a context where some communities are so isolated that medical staff cannot reach them with cold vaccines, syringes and sensitization.

*This seemingly too high coverage is due to several factors: (1) the number of children existing in the health zone is underestimated, and (2) other children may come to this health zone from neighboring health zones-->thus more children than planned are actually vaccinated


Kate said...

There's a fantastic film about eradicating polio called The Last Child.

The amazing and horrifying thing about polio is that for every case diagnosed, about 200 others are asymptomatic but infected and contagious.

Beaver said...

Wow. I did not know that. How sad. Sadness everywhere. Hrmf.

verniciousknids said...

That's devastating to be so close to eradication and then for it to come back again.

Carl said...

i flew the minister of health and a contingent down to boma today so they could see the victim. there are 4 other cases suspected but not yet confirmed.

the victim, a two and a half year old girl, had only partially completed the series of vaccinations. she can walk but will probably be crippled for life.

they figure the infection came up from angola via a trucker. the victim lived with a relative who worked in truck park and she would play there while her relative worked.

they tell me too that a big immunization program will start in the first 10 days of june and continue through july, august and september. bas-congo and kinshasa are the target areas.

i am impressed they are moving so fast.

Kate said...

Interesting update, Carl. the vaccination campaign will also be in Bandundu - the campaign has actually been planned by the MoH's EPI programme for about a year. It's obviously much needed, eh?

Carl said...

Well, so much for my being impressed with the DRC Ministry of Health's alacrity.

Elizabeth said...

How totally frustrating. And then they catch it in Angola and it comes back from Congo. AAARGH.