Global Alert and Response (GAR)

Poliomyelitis in West Africa: Togo, Burkina Faso and Ghana

9 October 2003

Disease Outbreak Reported

A case of poliomyelitis due to wild poliovirus was confirmed in Togo, with date of onset 22 July 2003.

This case, as well as cases reported in 2003 from Burkina Faso and Ghana, were found to be due to wild poliovirus type 1 that is genetically related to a lineage of wild poliovirus circulating in northern Nigeria and southern Niger.

To date in 2003, 1 case of poliomyelitis following importation of wild poliovirus has been reported in Togo, 1 case in Burkina Faso, and 6 cases in Ghana.

For Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo, the appearance of cases in 2003 follow long periods without isolation of wild poliovirus, in the presence of high-quality surveillance. Burkina Faso has been polio-free since 2001 with the exception of one case following importation of wild poliovirus in 2002. Ghana has been polio-free since 2001. Togo has been polio-free since 2000.

Given the close proximity to Nigeria, one of the three main poliovirus reservoirs in the world, the ongoing risk of importations remains high.

Ministries of Health in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo as well as those in Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon will conduct synchronized National Immunization Days (NIDs) targeting children aged < 5 yrs, starting 22 October. It is critical that every child is reached during these activities to ensure that population immunity is high enough to stop any transmission of wild poliovirus and to protect against further importations.

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