Two cases of polio were announced in Ukraine on September 2nd.
Since 2010, no other polio outbreak has been recorded in Europe. Now, two children, one aged 4, while the other only ten months, are the first confirmed cases in western Ukraine, Zakarpattya region.
According to official statistics, over half of the Ukrainian children are not vaccinated against polio and other diseases. This is one reason for which the newest outbreak in the past five years nested here.
The situation could spread alarmingly rapid. According to Oliver Rosenbauer, who is a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, the last cases of polio that were reported in Ukraine happened in 1996.
The polio strains vary significantly. Yet, this does not exempt anyone from being vaccinated accordingly, in order to prevent an outbreak. Compared to the 2010 polio outbreak that took place in Russia, this polio strain is known as cVDPV type 1, or circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1.
The low number of vaccinations or inadequate and incomplete vaccinations in Ukraine could lead to further cases being reported shortly. Nonetheless, there are also asymptomatic cases of polio, which, although unreported most of the time, spike the number of victims.
The Zakarpattya region where the two cases have been reported is bordered by Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland. While there is no imminent danger of the polio outbreak spreading to the neighboring countries, caution is still urged.
Currently, the WHO Regional Office for Europe is assisting the Ukrainian health authorities in fighting the polio strain.
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