It was the good news of the end of August for Africa, the poliovirus was eradicated on the continent. The announcement was made by the World Health Organization (WHO) on August 25.

“The victory over wild poliovirus in Africa is one of the greatest public health achievements of our time which urges us all to end polio eradication from the world. “, Welcomed the Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. ” I thank and congratulate the governments, health workers, local volunteers, traditional and religious leaders and parents across the Region who have acted together to push wild polio out of Africa. »

The end of the wild poliovirus

Except that it was the “wild poliovirus”, the main form of the disease developed by the polio virus. This virus invades the nervous system of the infected person and can cause paralysis, even death, in a few hours mainly in children under five years old, but also in adults. It is caught by drinking water or swallowing food contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

The virus multiplies in the intestines and is excreted in the stool of the infected person, where it can be transmitted again.

There are three serotypes of wild poliovirus – type 1, type 2 and type 3 – each characterized by a slightly different capsid protein. Type 1 is the most widespread strain of poliovirus, type 2 is reported to have disappeared, type 3 is now at very low levels.

A victory for Africa

This victory is linked to a formidable polio vaccination campaign. In 1996, Nelson Mandela launched this mobilization “Kick polio out of Africa” ​​when the wild poliovirus paralyzed 75,000 children each year. Over the period 1996-2020, the WHO claims to have administered 9 billion doses of polio vaccine, to have vaccinated 220 million children several times a year.

Poliometric remains in Africa, however.

However, the fight against polio in Africa and around the world is not over. WHO agrees: it still needs ” into dam the spread of circulating poliovirus derived from a vaccine strain type 2 (cVDPV2), which is present in 16 countries in the region. “And to add:” As there are pockets of low immunity, these strains remain a threat, and the risk is increased by vaccine interruptions caused by Covid-19, which make communities more vulnerable to outbreaks due to cVDPV2. »

Among these countries, Sudan, where the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced in its bulletin of August 27 that “ at At least 13 people have been affected by the disease (polio) in nine of the eighteen states of Sudan since the first case appeared on August 9. »

Cases have also been reported in Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Chad. “ This increases the risks in Sudan, especially in Darfur due to population movements ”, notes OCHA.

And even in its wild form

And it is on this point that the announcement of the WHO of August 25 seems premature. Wild poliovirus type 2 was also detected in samples collected in Khartoum State. “This indicates the possibility of a wide circulation of the virus in the country », Specifies the Sudanese branch of OCHA in Sudan.

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