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A child in north-eastern Mozambique has polio, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday, amid fears of a regional outbreak after cases were recently reported in neighbouring Malawi.
The case in the Tete province is Mozambique’s first since 1992, the WHO said.
A case was detected in February in Malawi, where officials launched a major vaccination campaign for 2.9 million children. Malawi had been free of polio since 2005.
“Laboratory analysis shows that the strain detected in Malawi is linked to the one that has been circulating in Sindh Province in Pakistan,” the WHO said in a statement, which noted that polio remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“As an imported case from Pakistan, this detection does not affect the African region’s wild poliovirus-free certification status,” the statement said. Africa was declared free of indigenous wild polio in August 2020 after eliminating all forms of wild polio from the region, the WHO said. Wild poliovirus is the most commonly known form of the poliovirus.
However, there have been rare cases of a vaccine-derived version of polio in areas with low immunization coverage, particularly among remote communities and those experiencing migration or conflict.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis within hours, according to the WHO.
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