Polio outbreak in Nigeria sparked by vaccine, experts say

LONDON: For doctors struggling to eradicate polio, fighting the paralytic disease can mean vaccinating children in war-torn regions, persuading governments to pay attention, and begging donors for money.

A recent polio outbreak in Nigeria revealed another potential problem: the vaccine commonly used against it. Last week, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that since 2005, 69 Nigerian children have been paralyzed by a polio virus derived from the oral vaccine. Two other cases made it to Niger.

Such cases are not unknown, but the continuing Nigerian outbreak is the biggest ever, and follows a boycott of the vaccination campaign in Africa’s most populous country because of unfounded fears the vaccine was a Western plot to sterilize Muslims.

Officials now worry that the latest Nigerian outbreak traced to the vaccine could trigger another vaccine scare.

“This is the oral polio vaccine paradox,” said Olen Kew, a virologist at the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This vaccine is the most effective tool we have against the virus, but it’s like fighting fire with fire.” Read More

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