By Godfrey Olukya
ARU, Democratic Republic of Congo
Two polio cases have been detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Wednesday.
Polio -- a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease -- was common in most African countries in 1960s and 1970s but WHO fought hard to get rid of it, especially through massive vaccination campaigns.
The latest outbreak is being seen as a setback to international efforts against the virus in the region.
In a statement, the WHO said two polio cases were detected in Haut-Lomami and Maniema provinces. Several other suspected cases are being closely followed.
''In the Democratic Republic of the Congo two separate circulating vaccine-derived polio virus type 2s have been confirmed.
“The first strain has been isolated from two acute flaccid paralysis cases from two districts in Haut-Lomami province. The second strain has been isolated from Maniema province from two cases,” according to the statement.
''Outbreak response plans are currently being finalized, consisting of strengthening surveillance, including active case searching for additional cases, and supplementary immunization activities with monovalent oral polio vaccine type 2 in line with internationally-agreed outbreak response protocols,'' the statement added.
Polio had been eradicated from most parts of the world a few years ago but now it is reemerging in some countries where there is said to be poor health services.