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Cablegate: Outbreak of Vaccine Derived Poliovirus in Nigeria

VZCZCXRO5635
PP RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHUJA #2237/01 2951008
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221008Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1249
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 8119
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002237

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

CDC ALSO FOR DIRECTORS EMERGENCY OPERATION CENTER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO EAID DEOC SOCI PGOV NI

SUBJECT: OUTBREAK OF VACCINE DERIVED POLIOVIRUS IN NIGERIA


1. Summary. An outbreak of at least 69 circulating Vaccine Derived
Polio Virus (cVDPV) cases have been reported between 2006-7 mostly
in Nigeria's northern states of Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi, and
Jigawa due to low immunization of children under five years.
Internationally, cVDPVs has been known to appear in areas with low
polio vaccination coverage. Immunization activities have
subsequently been increased in these states which have limited the
number of cVDPVs cases and their spread. Wild Polio Virus (WPV)
remains a greater threat to children in Nigeria than cVDPVs.
Achieving high polio immunization coverage is the only way to
prevent further cVDPV outbreaks. End Summary.

Nigeria's Outbreak
------------------

2. cVDPV is a rare, mutated, but weakened form of poliovirus that is
transmitted from immunized to un-immunized or poorly immunized
children that causes paralysis. This transmission occurs when
un-immunized or under-immunized children come in contact with the
faeces excreted from vaccinated children or a faecally contaminated
source which contains the mutated form of poliovirus. These cases
are generally found in environments with poor hygiene, sanitation
and low immunization coverage.

3. In 2006, the Global Polio Laboratory Network (CDC/Atlanta)
alerted the WHO and the Nigerian National Program on Immunization
about the circulation of VDPV in several states in Northern Nigeria.
As of August 17, 2007 there are an estimated 69 cases of cVDPVs.
The cVDPVs detected in Nigeria are of the Type 2 polio virus. Most
of the cases have been reported from the northern states of Kano,
Kaduna, Katsina, Bauchi, and Jigawa - states that have also reported
significant numbers of wild poliovirus cases.

4. The same areas that are affected by Wild Polio Virus (WPV)
transmission are also affected by cVDPVs. This is due to the low
polio immunization status of children under five years. Although
more and more children are being reached with polio immunization, up
to 30% of children under five years are still not immunized in some
areas, leading to low population immunity against polio. The factors
that contribute to this very low population immunity are: (a) low
routine immunization coverage, (b) sub-optimal quality of
Immunization Plus Days (IPDs or "polio rounds") with significant
numbers of children missed and remaining unvaccinated after the
rounds, and (c) the limited use of trivalent Oral Polio Vaccine
(tOPV), which prevents the occurrence of all three types of polio
virus (Types 1, 2 and 3). Monovalent OPV1 and monovalent OPV3 are
being used due to their effectiveness against Type 1 and Type 3
poliovirus, which are the viruses seen in Nigeria.

5. From January 2006 to July 2007 an estimated 230 million doses of
OPV have been administered to children under five years in Nigeria.
The total number of reported WPV cases for that same period is
1,325. However, the number of cVDPV cases reported as of August 17,
2007 is 69. This clearly demonstrates that WPV remains both more
prevalent and a far greater threat to children in Nigeria than
cVDPVs. Moreover, there is some belief that reported WPV cases may
in fact be under-estimated.

The Response
------------

6. In response to the preliminary information on possible
circulation of VDPVs in 2006, efforts were undertaken to improve
population immunity in all the affected states, as well as other
high risk states in Northern Nigeria. In line with the Global Polio
Eradication Initiative (GPEI) recommendation, polio campaigns using
trivalent OPV that provides immunity against all three strains of
wild polio virus were conducted in Nigeria (November 2006, January
2007, March 2007 and September 2007). Since the Nigerian cVDPV is a
similar, but actually weaker form of the Type 2 WPV, the trivalent
vaccine remains very effective in limiting the incidence of cVDPVs.
These rounds of immunization have limited the number of cases of
cVDPVs and their geographical spread and have also reduced the
incidence of wild polio virus cases in Northern Nigeria. However
the use of the trivalent vaccine for this purpose has not eliminated
the need for Nigeria to continue with focused monovalent rounds.

7. Information on the Nigerian cases was made public on September
21, 2007 in CDC's Mortality and Morbidity Review (MMWR) and in the
WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER). Since then and with
support from development partners, the government of Nigeria (GON)
has initiated dialogue with religious and traditional leaders.
Detailed plans with media strategies for reassuring state and
district leadership, general public, and technical experts have also
been developed. However, the public response from the GON has been
very slow despite increasing pressure from development partners.

ABUJA 00002237 002 OF 002

Global situation
----------------

8. It should be noted that cVDPV cases have been recorded in other
countries where immunization coverage was low, such as Egypt,
Indonesia, Cambodia, China, and Myanmar. These situations were
brought under control by increasing immunization coverage with the
use of trivalent OPV. Less than 200 cVDPV cases have been reported
over the past 10 years, while over 10 billion doses of polio vaccine
have been administered to more than 2 billion children. During the
same period, more than 33,000 children were paralyzed by wild
poliovirus, while more than 6.5 million polio cases were prevented
by the polio vaccine.

9. Comment. Wild polio virus remains a greater threat to children in
Nigeria than circulating vaccine derived polio virus. Achieving
high immunization coverage is the only way to prevent further cVDPV
outbreaks. The GON needs to act quickly on this issue to sustain
the gains made in polio eradication and to prevent a potential
backlash. Post has also recommended to key Ministry of Health
counterparts the need for clear and consistent public education to
allay fears, increase understanding and acceptance of GON
immunization strategies, and to significantly improve immunization
coverage. End Comment.

PIASCIK

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