… As Nigeria reports 395 cases of mutant poliovirus
By Chioma Obinna
Barely 16 months after the World Health Organisation, WHO certified Nigeria Wild Poliovirus free, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA, on Thursday announced 395 new cases of Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2, CMPV2, across 27 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja.
The NPHCDA also traced the CMPV2 outbreaks were caused by immunity gaps in children.
Nigeria in August 2020 was certified Wild poliovirus free by the WHO and partners after the country reported its last case of the Wild poliovirus in 2016.
Announcing these in a press statement, signed by the NPHCDA Executive Director, Faisal Shuaib traced the outbreak on the suspension of immunisation programmes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that it further created new immunity gaps which have led to new outbreaks.
According to the statement, “We currently have 395 cases of Circulating Mutant Poliovirus Type 2 (across 27 states and the FCT. Nigeria and the African region were certified Wild Polio Virus (WPV) free in 2020, following a rigorous verification and certification process by the African Regional Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication which spanned three years of no detection of WPV. To date, there has been no case of WPV anywhere in the country.
“CMPV2 outbreaks are caused by immunity gaps in children due to several reasons, including low routine immunization coverage, and missing children during immunization campaigns.
The suspension of several polio campaigns and other health programmes in 2020, as well as disruptions to routine immunisation because of the COVID-19 pandemic, created further immunity gaps which led to new and wider outbreaks and further increased transmission of the circulating mutant poliovirus both globally and within Nigeria.
“The viruses thrive in areas with poor sanitation, open defecation, and inadequate access to clean drinking water. These have allowed the virus to be easily transmitted from one person to another through contaminated water and poor sewage disposal.”
Shuaib further explained that malnutrition occasioned by increasing poverty was also a predisposing factor in exposed children.
“These non-wild polioviruses which originated because of normal changes in the reproduction of viruses in the environment are not as virulent as WPV and are also being reported in many other countries”.
He said the Agency was working with Donors and Development Partners to acquire new tools and resources to ensure the outbreaks are contained through very robust outbreak responses using the novel Oral Polio Vaccine which has been shown to be effective in halting the spread of the cMPV2.
“All 36 States and FCT have completed at least one nOPV2 Outbreak Response. Several other rounds of the OBR, as well as other campaigns to improve the mucosal immunity of children aged 0-5 years old using Injectable Polio Vaccine, have also been planned for this year. Efforts are also being ramped up to increase routine immunization coverage beyond pre-COVID values,” he stated.