Africa declared wild polio free

This item appears on page 5 of the October 2020 issue.

Africa was declared free of wild polio (that is, cases of polio caused by nonhuman sources) by the Africa Regional Certification Commission on Aug. 25 after there had been no reported cases in Nigeria, the last country on the continent to have wild cases, since 2016. It is estimated that 95% of children in Africa have been vaccinated for the disease.

According to the World Health Organization, there are still 177 cases of oral-vaccine-derived polio (cVDPV) circulating in Africa. This rare type of polio is caused when a vaccinated person, who can shed active virus for a short time after vaccination, infects an unvaccinated person. cVDPV is typically mild and usually does not result in paralyzation as wild polio can.

Now that Nigeria is free of wild polio, the only countries in the world where the disease is present is Afghanistan and Pakistan.