April 16, 2009

Polio-free countries need surveillance

Some countries still harbor wild poliovirus, so all polio-free countries need to maintain sensitive surveillance systems, U.S. health officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Weekly Report released Thursday said that from 2007-2008, the cases of polio in Africa increased 144 percent, from 387 cases in 2007 to 946 in 2008, primarily because of a resurgence of cases in Nigeria as well as increases in Angola, Chad and Sudan.

The importations of wild poliovirus resulted in 96 polio cases in 15 countries in West Central Africa, the Horn of Africa and South Central Africa in 2008-2009 (as of March 24), the report said.

The majority of the cases were caused by importations of wild poliovirus originating in Nigeria.

The four African countries from which multiple importations have spread -- Angola, Chad, Nigeria, Sudan -- have serious weaknesses in health infrastructure and require specific efforts to strengthen their fight against wild poliovirus circulation, the report said.

Until polio eradication is reached, other countries need to have sensitive surveillance and plans to rapidly respond if imported wild poliovirus is found.