Le virus de la poliomyélite

Zimbabwe launches emergency polio vaccination campaign

Zimbabwe launched an emergency vaccination campaign on Tuesday, aiming to immunize more than 4 million children against polio. This initiative follows the detection of three cases of polio caused by a rare mutation of the virus, originating from oral vaccines, including one case which led to the paralysis of a 10-year-old girl in January.

Health authorities in Zimbabwe have identified a rare polio mutation from samples taken from the sewers of the country’s capital, Harare. According to explanations, the virus contained in oral vaccines can, in rare cases, mutate and trigger new epidemics, especially in regions where health conditions are precarious and vaccination coverage is low. Although the number of polio cases worldwide has declined by more than 99% since this campaign began in 1988, the persistence of this risk highlights the need to maintain constant vigilance.

Faced with the appearance of this mutation, which constitutes a serious threat to public health, a vaccination campaign was launched in Zimbabwe. Vaccination teams are mobilizing, going from door to door to administer the necessary doses to protect children. New strategies are also being implemented, such as the use of a new oral vaccine specifically designed to reduce the risk of the virus mutating. Zimbabwe plans to distribute more than 10 million doses of this new vaccine to more than 4 million children under 10 years old.

Although Zimbabwe has not reported a case of wild polio since 1986, the recent detection of vaccine-related cases highlights the importance of continued surveillance and international cooperation. Zimbabwean Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora stressed the urgency of the situation while ensuring that the country was ready to respond quickly, working with other African countries to control the spread of the disease.

Polio remains a serious threat to the health of children under 5 years old, with the risk of total paralysis. To counter this threat, vaccination coverage of more than 95% is essential to prevent new epidemics and protect future generations.