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UNICEF corrects report of Polio in Madagascar


UNICEF said today there was no re-emergence of polio in Madagascar. On 21 October, UNICEF's Madagascar country office issued a press release expressing concern over a resurgence of polio in Madagascar after a routine health survey identified vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) in several healthy children. The release may have led to a misunderstanding that there is an outbreak of wild poliovirus in Madagascar. UNICEF wishes to clarify that there is no such outbreak. The last wild poliovirus case in Madagascar was detected in 1997.

The presence of the vaccine-derived poliovirus does indicate low routine vaccination coverage but does not in any way constitute an outbreak of wild poliovirus. A vaccine-derived poliovirus is a mutation of the virus that is present in the vaccine and in extremely rare instances can cause the disease it is meant to prevent. In Madagascar, none of the children from whom the vaccine-derived poliovirus was isolated had paralysis.

Although currently there is no wild poliovirus outbreak in Madagascar, it should be noted that until polio is eradicated globally, outbreaks of wild and vaccine-derived poliovirus can still occur in countries where routine coverage with at least 3 oral polio vaccine (OPV) doses is low. Government and all stakeholders should take this as an opportunity to address existing gaps in routine immunization to help increase immunity against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases that threaten children.

Since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched in 1988, the incidence of polio has been reduced by more than 99 per cent. In 1988, more than 350,000 children were paralysed each year in more than 125 endemic countries. In 2010, 1,349 cases were reported worldwide, from 20 countries. Worldwide, only four countries remain endemic--Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan--and four are considered to have re-established transmission—Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and South Sudan.

For more information please contact:
Christian Moen, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 212 326 7516,




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