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Poliomyelitis: spreading in Africa

Poliomyelitis has been eradicated in Europe since 2002, but has been on the increase in Africa since 2006. Vaccination of the entire world population remains a necessity.

Since 2002, acute poliomyelitis has been eradicated from Europe, as well as from the Americas and the western Pacific region. In 2006, only Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan were still affected.

Since 2006, the disease has actually been on the increase in Africa. In Nigeria, at least 3,000 cases a year of the paralysing form of poliomyelitis were reported between 2006 and 2009. The disease spread to Angola, Sudan and Chad, then to central Africa and on to neighbouring countries.

In 2008 and 2009, more than 15 African countries were affected. In these countries, vaccination cover is low.

In 2007 and 2008, polioviruses were found in wastewater in Switzerland and Egypt, but no cases of poliomyelitis were identified in these two countries.

In practice, mass vaccination and monitoring the development of poliomyelitis are still required worldwide.

©Prescrire September 2010

Source: "Poliomyélite : expansion en Afrique" Rev Prescrire 2010; 30 (321): 529.