Despite a decade’s worth of efforts to reduce poliovirus transmission risks in Africa’s “wild poliovirus importation belt,” a new outbreak confirmed last spring has resulted in nearly 200 new polio cases in 3 eastern African countries.
As of September 10, public health officials said 163 cases were reported in Somalia, 14 in Kenya, and 1 in Ethiopia. The outbreak is one of many that have occurred since 2003 after indigenous West African wild poliovirus was imported into 21 countries in the importation belt, which extends across the continent from the Sahara Desert to the equator. Currently, indigenous wild poliovirus transmission remains uninterrupted in Niger as well as in Afghanistan and Pakistan. All countries in the importation belt will be at some risk for outbreaks as long as endemic circulation continues in those countries.
Africa’s Ongoing Fight Against Polio. JAMA. 2013;310(19):2031. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.281086