In a follow-up to a report two weeks ago, two cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus were confirmed in Myanmar this past week, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).

Polio vaccine/Mai Mohamed, Egypt
Polio vaccine/Mai Mohamed, Egypt

The most recent reported case in the outbreak of type 2 circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) was isolated from a 15-month old child in Rakhine, with onset of paralysis on 15 October. The case is genetically linked to a VDPV isolated in the same village earlier in the year, which has now been reclassified as a cVDPV type 2.

The re-classified strain had been originally isolated from a 28-month old child, with onset of paralysis on 16 April. The genetic changes of the isolate detected in April suggest that the cVDPV2 had already been circulating for more than one year.

The Ministry of Health of Myanmar is being supported by WHO and partners of the GPEI in planning and implementing an urgent outbreak response. Large-scale supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) using trivalent oral polio vaccine (OPV) has already been conducted from 5 to 7 December 2015, and a further three large-scale SIAs are planned in ‘high risk’ areas between now and the end of February 2016.

Significant immunization gaps remain in Myanmar, with an estimated 24% of children un- or under-immunized. Vaccination coverage remains particularly low among special at-risk populations. National surveillance rates are strong yet subnational gaps persist.

In other polio news, six new wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) cases were reported in the past week: four in Sindh province, one in Balochistan province, and one in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). The total number of WPV1 cases for 2015 is now 49, compared to 275 by this time in 2014.

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, 66 wild poliovirus cases have been reported from two countries (Pakistan and Afghanistan), compared to 324 cases from nine countries during the same period in 2014.   –

Finally, there is a report from the website, TakeApart dated Dec. 9, which was also picked up by Yahoo News that reports on two polio cases in Russia with one via Tajikistan. However, the report appears to be picked up from a 2010 Reuters report.

The data in the TakeApart report, “Tajikistan, which has had 12 to 15 polio deaths and 52 recorded cases since January alone” and ” the number of recorded Tajikistan cases is 278 since last December” are clearly inaccurate as 2015 numbers. The links they use to support this are dead.

And as ProMED Mail reports, “This report refers to Strategic Plan 2010-2012 for the eradication of polio, but an Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018 exists.”

The report also links to an undated National Post via Reuters report which states, “[polio] remains endemic in seven countries, including India, Nigeria and Pakistan”.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

Follow @bactiman63