A case of wild poliovirus-1 (WPV-1) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan is the first recorded for 2015, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. The individual had onset of paralysis on January 3.
Pakistan also reported 6 additional cases in the past week, all of which are included in the 2014 numbers.
In 2014, cases of polio in Pakistan accounted for 85% of cases worldwide (303 of the 356 total cases). It is now “low season” in Pakistan and officials are putting together an emergency strategy for 2015.
In a November meeting, political leaders from all levels of government were joined by public health experts to focus on improving the quality of activities in accessible areas, increasing the security measures for protecting health workers, developing special strategies for reaching mobile populations, and also using inactivated polio vaccine in areas where unvaccinated children are leaving areas of conflict.
The global total of polio cases in 2014 was 356. Nigeria’s total WPV1 case count for 2014 remains 6, compared to 53 in 2013, not reporting a case since July 2014.
Related: Vaccines: An interview with Dr. Paul Offit
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. It invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the fecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life.
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