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Papua New Guinea: Polio Outbreak - Jun 2018

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Papua New Guinea (PNG) health authorities have confirmed that the country is experiencing its first polio outbreak in 18 years, after one case of the virus was confirmed in an urban settlement in the country's second largest city...The Department of Health and [WHO] confirmed in a joint statement, that the virus was first detected in a child in April and a vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (VDPV1) was isolated as the cause of paralysis in May...As WHO stated that the version of the virus circulating in the settlement is a "vaccine-derived poliovirus", meaning it is a mutated version of the weaker polio virus used in vaccinations. Vaccine-derived polioviruses are rare, and tend to occur in populations with very low vaccination rates. They develop when children who have not been vaccinated come into contact with the excrement of vaccinated children, and are exposed to the weaker virus. The WHO and PNG authorities have launched an emergency immunization campaign to try to prevent other children from becoming infected. (IFRC, 7 Jul 2018)

Papua New Guinea officially launched the outbreak response campaign on 16 July in Morobe, Madang and Eastern Highlands provinces. Three more campaigns ar eplanned for August, September and October. (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 17 Jul 2018). This is in response to one case of cVDPV1 and two cVDPV1 community contacts reported in Lae, Morobe province. The case had onset of paralysis on 24 April 2018.

On 26 June, the Papua New Guinea Government declared the circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1) outbreak in Morobe province a National Public Health Emergency. The National Department of Health (NDOH) is closely working with GPEI partners to launch a comprehensive response. The NDOH activated the National Emergency Operations Centre for the polio outbreak on 27 June 2018. Mop-up vaccination has taken place in Morobe and Eastern Highlands provinces with bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV). Intensified surveillance measures to improve detection of acute flaccid paralysis and poliovirus are being implemented in six provinces and the National Capital District, with on-the-ground training for provincial and district staff being provided by NDOH and WHO. (Global Polio Eradication Initiative, 24 Jul 2018)

On 6 August, The National Department of Health of Papua New Guinea (NDOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a case of polio in a 3-year old boy from Mulitaka, Laigam District in Enga Province. The case is the third in the country, following confirmation of two cases from Lae, Morobe Province in June and July 2018. (Govt. of PNG, WHO, UNICEF, GPEI, 6 Aug 2018)

As of 9 Aug, almost 300,000 children have been vaccinated in the first round of the polio campaign in Morobe, Eastern Highlands, and Madang. The second round of the vaccination campaign, targeting over 700,000 children, will cover 9 provinces: Morobe, Madang, Eastern Highlands, Enga, Chimbu, Southern Highlands, Western Highlands, Jiwaka and Hela. A nationwide polio vaccination campaign is planned for September and October targeting 1 265 000 children under 5 years old. (Govt. of PNG, WHO, UNICEF, GPEI, 9 Aug 2018)

On 13 August, a new polio case was reported by the National Department of Health of Papua New Guinea (NDOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in a 22-month old girl from Eastern Highlands Province. This is the fourth case in the country, following confirmation of two cases from Morobe Province in June and July 2018 and a case from Enga in early August. (Govt. of PNG, WHO, UNICEF, GPEI, 13 Aug 2018)

Almost 300,000 children were vaccinated during the first round of the ongoing polio immunization campaign in Papua New Guinea. The Government of Papua New Guinea plans to launch multiple rounds of polio vaccination to protect children under five years old from the disease. Four rounds are planned from July to October 2018. (IFRC, 24 Aug 2018)

One new case of polio has been confirmed in a six-year-old boy from 5-Mile Settlement. This is the first case reported from Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. To respond to this case, the government and various partners decided to launch an emergency polio vaccination campaign on 24 September in the National Capital District. A nationwide polio campaign will commence on 1 October. (Gov't of Papua New Guinea, UNICEF, WHO, 7 Sep 2018)

On 11 September, two additional polio cases were reported from Eastern Highlands Province. As of 12 September, Papua New Guinea has confirmed a total of 12 cases of polio: four in Eastern Highlands, three in Morobe, two in Enga, two in Madang and one in the National Capital District. Papua New Guinea’s National Department of Health (NDOH) announced that polio vaccination will be expanded to cover more than 3.3 million children aged up to 15 years. (Gov't of Papua New Guinea, UNICEF, WHO, 13 Sep 2018)