As I’ve mentioned in past updates, global efforts to eradicate polio through widespread immunization campaigns have been incredibly successful. Back in May of this year, only three countries still had endemic polio cases – Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Unfortunately, for the first time since 2007, wild poliovirus cases are again being reported in Somalia. Currently, 65 cases have been reported there with 8 more in neighboring Kenya, which hosts a refugee camp that includes people from across the Horn of Africa, including Somalia.
There’s a constant movement of people across the Horn of Africa, and many of these countries have large gaps in immunity. While immunization campaigns are underway in both Somalia and Kenya, immunity gaps in the region could foster further spread of the disease, putting the region, including 600,000 vulnerable children, at risk for a large polio outbreak. The Polio Global Eradication Initiative posts weekly updates of polio cases across the world and provides information about response efforts.