The number of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) stands at five for 2016 to date, with the addition of three new cases in Pakistan in the past week.

Poliovirus  Image/CDC
Poliovirus Image/CDC

According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), the new cases were reported in Quetta, Balochistan, and the districts of Hangu and Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with onset of paralysis between 1 and 12 February. The total number of WPV1 cases for 2016 is now 5, compared to 13 reported for 2015 at this point last year.

In addition, news media in the West African country of Guinea (computer translated) are reporting 14 cases of polio. The cases are reported in the administrative region of Kankan. UN health officials have not reported on this to date.

According to the World Health Organization, 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. 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 of 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.