Health officials in the African nation of South Sudan confirmed a new outbreak of the poliovirus – ironically caused by vaccinations against it. The South Sudan Ministry of Health (MOH) said 15 vaccine-derived polio cases were identified in the northwestern portion of the country. Vaccine-derived polio is a rare instance in which the weakened poliovirus in the vaccines mutates and causes sickness, instead of providing immunity against the pathogen it is supposed to protect against.
The acutely infectious and contagious poliovirus is responsible for poliomyelitis, which attacks the spinal cord and causes irreversible paralysis in children. Health experts said vaccine-derived polio, the disease that stuck South Sudan, particularly affects countries with low immunization rates and poor sanitation. They added that the pathogen can transmit through fecal matter and contaminate water or food; it can spread through an under-immunized community, mutating along the way.
The vaccine-derived polio outbreak in South Sudan follows deaths stemming from seasonal flu vaccination in South Korea. A report by South Korean news agency Yonhap listed 48 flu vaccine fatalities, including a teenage boy and an elderly man as of Oct. 24.South Sudan confirms new outbreak of vaccine-related polio – Dr. Eddy Bettermann MD