Polio outbreak in the south-west of Tajikistan


A polio outbreak in the south-west of Tajikistan, in the area bordering Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

As of 22 April, 128 AFP cases have been reported and 10 children have died. All cases are in the south-west of the country, in an area bordering Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Poliovirus has been isolated in diagnostic specimens from seven of these cases. Genetic sequencing of the virus is being done to further characterize the virus. Uzbekistan has also reported three AFP cases, which are under investigation.

Poliovirus travels long distances easily and polio-free regions will continue to be at risk until poliovirus transmission is stopped in the remaining endemic countries. The WHO European Region was certified polio-free in 2002, following over three years without transmission of indigenous wild poliovirus in the presence of certification-standard surveillance. The outbreak in Tajikistan has no immediate implications for the European Region’s certification.

This outbreak, however, demonstrates the need to maintain high population immunity until transmission of polio has been interrupted worldwide. The outbreak coincides with the annual European Immunization Week campaign which begins on 24 April 2010 to raise awareness of vaccine-preventable diseases and the importance of immunization.

Please click here to access the WHO press release http://www.euro.who.int/communicablediseases/outbreaks/20100423_1