A fifth case of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1) was reported in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) during the past week. The case was reported from Saysomboun district in Xaysomboune province, and had onset of paralysis on 28 October. This is the most recent date of onset, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

Image/Chris Zahniser, B.S.N., R.N., M.P.H.

In October, a child paralyzed by cVDPV type 1 was confirmed in Lao PDR. Soon, three more people with paralysis were confirmed as the virus spread. An outbreak response was quickly mobilized to vaccinate all children under the age of 15 with the oral polio vaccine.

Dr Rudi Tangermann from the World Health Organization noted, “When we fight polio anywhere, our priority is to serve the communities who are most at risk. In Lao PDR there are many diverse ethnic communities, with Hmong being the largest of these. Hmong communities have a culture, language, religious and social practices that are uniquely different from the national profile, meaning that the response has to be nuanced for local needs across the country.

“After a long period of being polio-free, communicating the risk of polio and the benefits of vaccination to any community following an outbreak in a country is always a challenge. Ensuring Hmong communities know about polio and understand that it is a serious public health threat was a priority.”

Concerning the global wild poliovirus situation, the GPEI reports: In 2015, wild poliovirus transmission is at the lowest levels ever, with fewer cases reported from fewer areas of fewer countries than ever before.  In 2015 so far, 60 wild poliovirus cases have been reported from two countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan), compared to 316 cases from nine countries during the same period in 2014.