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Horn of Africa: Polio Outbreak - May 2013

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In 2013, an outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) began in the Horn of Africa. Six cases have been confirmed, four from Somalia (Banadir and Bay region) and two from Kenya (Dadaab in north-­‐eastern Kenya). The first case was confirmed in Somalia on 9 May 2013 and in Kenya on 22 May. This was the first outbreak in Somalia since 2007 and in Kenya since 2011. Outbreak campaigns have been launched in both countries. Immunization campaigns are planned and being conducted in neighboring Ethiopia and Yemen to boost population immunity levels and minimize the risk of spread of the outbreak. (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 30 May 2013)

As of 1 Jul, 25 cases had been reported from Somalia (primarily from Banadir region) and six from Kenya (Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya) (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 1 Jul 2013). As of 14 Aug, Somalia had the worst outbreak in the world in a non-endemic country with 105 cases confirmed. About 10 cases of wild polio had been confirmed in Kenya. (OCHA, 15 Aug 2013) As of 14 Oct, six cases of polio had been confirmed in Ethiopia (IFRC, 25 Oct 2013). Three cases had been reported in South Sudan, but were retracted on 26 Oct due to laboratory error (IFRC, 29 Oct 2013).

As of the end of 2013, the polio outbreak in the Horn of Africa was on the decline and the total number of polio cases stood at 203 (183 from Somalia, 14 from Kenya and six from Ethiopia). The most recent case in the region had onset of paralysis on 9 Oct (from Lower Shabelle, Somalia). (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 24 Dec 2013)

By 18 Jun 2014, the total number of cases in the region was 219 since the beginning of the outbreak in Apr 2013 (195 from Somalia, 14 from Kenya and 10 from Ethiopia). (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 18 Jun 2014)

Two new cases of circulating vaccine derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) were reported in South Sudan in the week of 4 Nov. Both were from Rubkona district of Unity province. The most recent onset of paralysis was on the 12 Sep. (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 4 Nov 2014)

By 18 Feb 2015, it had been six months since the most recent case of wild poliovirus on the African continent had onset of paralysis, in Somalia on 11 Aug 2014. Twelve months of absence of wild poliovirus, with certification-quality surveillance, will be necessary for the Horn of Africa outbreak to be declared as closed. (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 18 Feb 2015)

In the second half of 2014, the outbreaks in the Horn of Africa, central Africa and the Middle East that spanned 2013 and the first half of 2014 were brought to the verge of being stopped. Thanks to regionally-coordinated outbreak responses in all three regions, one case was reported in this six-month period, in Somalia on 24 August. No case has been reported from any of the outbreaks since then. Status Report July - December 2014: Progress against the Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013-2018, published 15 May 2015 (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, WHO)