Polio is on the brink of eradication but one new case of wild poliovirus type 1 was reported from Kama district in the Nangarhar province in Afghanistan this week.
This is the first reported case of wild polio in the world in 2018.
Polio is an infectious disease caused by poliovirus. There are three strains of the virus. Type 2 was officially declared eradicated in September 2015 and type 3 has not been detected since November 2012. It is assumed that type 1 is the only type that remains and the cause for the minimal cases of polio that occur each year.
Polio is endemic in only three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. There were 22 cases of wild polio in 2017 and, now, one in 2018.
While polio is 99% eradicated, new cases shed light on the importance of vaccinating every last child. While polio is a threat to a child anywhere, it remains a threat to a child everywhere.
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In Afghanistan alone, 5.5 million children were targeted during a vaccination campaign from Dec. 17 to 22, according to the World Health Organization.
But there are areas in Afghanistan that health workers struggle to reach. Health workers in Shahwalikot, Afghanistan recently struggled to carry out a polio vaccination campaign in the conflict-stricken region. The Taliban has made access difficult, but so have government forces.
There were actually more cases of vaccine-derived polio than there are wild ones. In 2017, there were 22 cases of wild polio and 91 cases of vaccine-derived polio.
Vaccine-derived cases occur when the oral polio vaccine, which uses a live strain of the virus, mutates and causes polio.
This week there was a vaccine-derived poliovirus case in Tehran, Iran.
Cases like this do not mean the wild virus is making a comeback, but they are more so one last obstacle to confront in order to eradicate the disease altogether.
The number of vaccine-derived cases will likely decrease as countries transition from using the oral vaccine to the injectable Salk vaccine (which uses a dead strain of the virus).