In DepthInfectious Disease

New polio cases in Nigeria spur massive response

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Science  19 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6301, pp. 738
DOI: 10.1126/science.353.6301.738

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Just as Nigeria and the global community were celebrating 2 years without a wild-type polio case in a country that once accounted for half of all cases in the world, the virus showed that any declaration of victory was premature. The report last week that two children in the northern state of Borno had been paralyzed by wild-type polio virus has triggered massive emergency vaccination efforts in Nigeria and neighboring countries. But the setback didn't come as much of a surprise to those in who have long been trying to eradicate the virus. Much of Borno is under control of the ruthless terrorist group Boko Haram, vaccinators have been unable to reach large numbers of children, and the insurgency has disrupted surveillance for the virus, which seems to have been circulating undetected for 5 years. The polio fighters in Nigeria face another challenge as well, experts say. It is very hard to maintain the political commitment and energy required for an eradication campaign when the disease appears to have disappeared. With redoubled efforts and improved access to insecure areas, national and global officials are optimistic they can quash the new outbreak quickly and still meet the goal of stopping worldwide transmission of the virus in 2016.