Polio Outbreak In Nigeria: Due To Oral Vaccination? Again?

A child receives oral polio vaccine during a 2...
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In the news, crazy vaccine resisting Muslims are killing their children with Polio.  Oops, nobody died, but they make it sound like they are from all this resisting.  Oh, except back in 2007 the Nigerian epidemic was ” a rare outbreak of a vaccine-derived form of polio in northern Nigeria.  It affected 69 children who had been vaccinated.”  So maybe, just maybe, the vaccine resisting parents have a memory and heard that getting vaccinated might even cause their children to get the disease.  Hardly unreasonable, given recent history.

In the US, we no longer allow oral vaccination.  Why?  Because the oral vaccine is excreted in the vaccinated child’s feces for up to two weeks after the vaccination.  Another chld could contract the disease from contact.  Here’s the CDC report:

“In 1999, a  change in vaccination policy in the United States from use of OPV to exclusive  use of IPV eliminated the 8–10 vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis  (VAPP) cases that had occurred annually since the introduction of OPV in the  1960s. In the United States, 2 events in 2005 highlighted the continuing but  low risk for poliovirus infection for unvaccinated people, whether residing in  the United States or traveling:

  • A  case of imported VAPP occurred in an unvaccinated US adult who had traveled  abroad, likely from contact with an infant recently vaccinated with OPV.
  • An  unvaccinated, immunocompromised infant and 4 children in 2 other families in  the same small rural community were found to be asymptomatically infected with  a vaccine-derived poliovirus, presumably originating outside the United States  in a country that uses OPV.”


The furor over the current cases stems from our constant, unending battle to eradicate the disease.  But the darn stuff keeps rising up where it should be gone.  The CDC report above highlights the very real possibility that we are fooling ourselves when we think that we will eradicate polio.  Asymptomatic strains will continue to circulate and may infect immune compromised individuals for decades to come.  Maybe it’s time to declare the war a holding action, and start treating the causes of immune compromise:  malnutrition, hygiene, epidemic poverty, and hopelessness.


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