The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Gabon a “polio-free country”. This comes after lack of new reported or suspected cases in the central African country in recent times. But the UN health agency has recommended taking necessary steps to continue monitoring for possible signs of the disease.
Polio is highly-infectious viral disease caused by the poliovirus. It mainly affects young children and can result in permanent paralysis. The virus is transmitted from person-to-person. It mainly spreads through the faecal-oral route (e.g. contaminated water or food). After entering body, it multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.
Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In some cases, it causes permanent paralysis. There is no cure for polio virus, it can only be prevented by immunization.
Global Polio Prevalence
Cases of polio have decreased by 99% since 1988, when it was endemic in 125 countries and 350,000 cases were recorded worldwide. Now the disease is endemic is prevalent only in two South Asian countries Afghanistan and Pakistan, where WHO recorded four cases—two in each country this year. In 2016, there were 37 cases globally.