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Concerns over vaccine-derived poliovirus detection in Burundi and Congo

There are concerns among public experts after health officials in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) detected cases of vaccine-derived poliovirus.

The World Health Organization and Global Polio Eradication Initiative made the announcement during the week.

The WHO said the Burundian government declared the detection of the virus a national public health emergency.

Some cases were confirmed in an unvaccinated four-year-old boy in Isale district in western Burundi and two other children who were his contacts.

Five other samples from environmental surveillance of waste water confirmed the presence of circulating poliovirus type 2 in Burundi, the WHO added in a statement.

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Circulating poliovirus type 2 is different to wild poliovirus, with infections occurring when a weakened strain of poliovirus contained in the oral polio vaccine circulates among under-immunized populations for long periods.

The detections are significant as they are the first linked with the use of a new vaccine, the novel oral poliomyelitis vaccine type 2 (nOPV2), which was developed specifically to reduce this risk.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) said in a statement that circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 was found in six children in the DRC’s eastern Tanganyika and South Kivu provinces.

Burundi plans to conduct a polio vaccination campaign in the coming weeks for all eligible children aged up to 7 years with help from the WHO and GPEI, the WHO said.

“While detection of these outbreaks is a tragedy for the family and communities affected, it is not unexpected with wider use of the vaccine,” said the GPEI, a partnership made up of the WHO, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other global health bodies.

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Source: / Reuters

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