AsianScientist (Nov. 18, 2011) – China is midway through a third round of immunizations against the polio outbreak that was confirmed in August 2011 in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The new round of immunizations, which began on November 15 and is scheduled to end on November 22, aims to immunize everyone who was targeted in the two previous rounds, which began on September 8.
All other provinces in China are conducting preventive supplementary and catch-up immunizations in high-risk areas in the largest immunization activity since the country interrupted its last polio transmission in 1999.
“Everyone at risk of getting polio needs to be immunized at least three times with oral polio vaccine,” said Dr. Shin Young-soo, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for the Western Pacific.
“China will act until the disease is again banished from its territory. This is important for the efforts to eradicate polio from both the Region and the world.”
At the request of the Government of China, WHO is providing technical support for the outbreak response. The technical support focuses on assessments of population immunity levels to identify high-risk groups, facilitate enhanced disease surveillance, and plan and monitor the immunization campaign.
More than nine million children and young adults have been immunized in China since the country began its all-out fight against the outbreak.
18 cases of polio have been confirmed in the Xinjiang – nine among very young children (under three years of age) and nine among young adults (19 to 31 years old) since the outbreak began. One person has died. Genetic sequencing has determined that the wild poliovirus cases found in China are most closely related to virus circulating in Pakistan.
Despite China’s outbreak, there are no immediate implications for the official polio-free status that WHO’s Western Pacific Region has had since October 2000. Experience shows that outbreaks such as the one in China can be quashed with determined response activities before they would jeopardize the polio-free status.
Until the outbreak, the last case of wild poliovirus in China was in 1999 and was due to importation from India. China’s last indigenous polio case occurred in 1994.
Source: WHO Western Pacific Region.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.