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Assessing a polio outbreak

May 2006

A toddler in Myanmar tested positive for polio in May 2006, the first reported case in the country since February 2000. The 19-month-old boy, who lived with his grandmother and three siblings near Mandalay, had acute flaccid paralysis and had never received any oral polio vaccine. An international response team, including Basil Rodriques, the UNICEF Regional Immunization Officer, flew quickly to the area to assess the outbreak and determine appropriate action. As well, the Government began searching for other cases.

The origin of the virus eventually was traced to a mutation from the vaccine strain. The response team also detected that there is an increasing immunity gap among children younger than 5 in Myanmar. Based on that and other findings, the team concluded that there is a significant risk for local and widespread polio virus circulation and recommended a return to the routine immunization system as well as a nation-wide search for active cases and surveillance and three emergency subnational immunization days targeting children younger than 5.



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