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Nigeria officially reports 395 cases of mutant poliovirus

The National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) on Thursday announced that Nigeria has officially reported 395 cases of the Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 (CMPV2) across 27 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on August 2020 certified Nigeria Wild poliovirus free.

But the NPHCDA in a statement signed by its Executive Director, Faisal Shuaib, said the CMPV2 outbreaks were caused by immunity gaps in children.

Shuaib said the suspension of immunisation programmes due to the COVID-19 pandemic has further created new immunity gaps which have led to new outbreaks.

The statement partly reads: “We currently have 395 cases of Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 (across 27 states and the FCT.

“Nigeria and the African region were certified Wild Polio Virus (WPV) free in 2020, following a rigorous verification and certification process by the African Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication which spanned three years of no detection of WPV. To date, there has been no case of WPV anywhere in the country.

“cMPV2 outbreaks are caused by immunity gaps in children due to several reasons, including low routine immunisation coverage, and missing children during immunisation campaigns.

“The suspension of several polio campaigns and other health programmes in 2020, as well as disruptions to routine immunisation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, created further immunity gaps which led to new and wider outbreaks and further increased transmission of the circulating mutant poliovirus both globally and within Nigeria.

“The viruses thrive in areas with poor sanitation, open defecation, and inadequate access to clean drinking water. These have allowed the virus to be easily transmitted from one person to another through contaminated water and poor sewage disposal. Malnutrition occasioned by increasing poverty is also a predisposing factor in exposed children.

“These non-wild polioviruses which originated because of normal changes in the reproduction of viruses in the environment are not as virulent as WPV and are also being reported in many other countries.

“We are currently working with our Donors and Development Partners, Nigeria has already acquired new tools and resources to ensure the outbreaks are contained through very robust outbreak responses using the novel Oral Polio Vaccine which has been shown to be effective in halting the spread of the cMPV2. All 36 States and FCT have completed at least one nOPV2 Outbreak Response.

“Several other rounds of the OBR, as well as other campaigns to improve the mucosal immunity of children aged 0-5 years old using Injectable Polio Vaccine, have also been planned for this year. Efforts are also being ramped up to increase routine immunisation coverage beyond pre-COVID values.”

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