Kenya ‘polio free dream’ to take time

Thursday May 03 2018

Three year old Sureif Yusuf receives polio vaccine at Kambi Odha in Isiolo county, Kenya on January 18 2017. The Ministry of Health has now launched a polio vaccination campaign. FILE PHOTO | NATION


Kenya will not be certified polio-free this year as planned as live viruses have been found in sewage samples collected from Nairobi.

The Ministry of Health was notified by Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) of isolation of polio virus type 2 from an environmental sample collected on March 21 from one of the sites in Eastleigh, Kamukunji Sub-county.

“Genetic sequencing of the isolate in CDC Atlanta laboratories subsequently confirmed it is circulating vaccine-derived polio type 2(CVDPV2).” the ministry said in a statement.

This means an unvaccinated person who comes into contact with the stool or respiratory secretions of the infected person can get polio.

Now, the Ministry of Health has launched a polio vaccination campaign.

Poliomyelitis, an infectious viral disease, commonly called polio, causes temporary or permanent paralysis.


The infection affects children and young adults. The virus enters the nervous system and infects nerve cells that control muscles, causing paralysis, often of the leg.

It is an incurable disease. In its most dangerous form, the polio virus attacks the brain and the respiratory system, creating complications that sometimes result in death.

Most developed countries have been declared polio free by World Health Organisations. Only Africa and Asian countries are struggling to eradicate the disease with the worst hit countries being Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Kenya last reported polio cases in 2013 when a large wild polio virus outbreak in Somalia led to an eventual importation of 14 cases to the country.

In the past eight years, fresh outbreaks have been reported in Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan.

In Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania polio cases were recorded almost a decade ago. Three years ago, South Sudan announced that it had confirmed three cases of poliomyelitis after laboratory tests at Kemri in Nairobi.