Health authorities in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe have detected a vaccine-derived Poliovirus type 2 (Cvdpv2) circulating in the sewage system in high-density suburbs of Budiriro, Crowbrough, Mbare, and Mufakose.
By Michael Gwarisa
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Vaccine-derived poliovirus is a well-documented strain of poliovirus mutated from the strain originally contained in Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV). OPV contains a live, weakened form of poliovirus that replicates in the intestine for a limited period, thereby developing immunity by building up antibodies. In Harare the poliovirus was detected through Environmental Surveillance in Harare on October 20, 2023.
Dr. Douglas Mombeshora, the Minister of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) confirmed the development and emphasized that the poliovirus has not yet been detected in humans as yet but only in the sewer system.
We have no cases that we have recorded so far in Harare. It’s only that we always do surveillance where we screen people, their stools etc for the poliovirus. We also screen the sewage. So there are areas like Mbare, Mufakose, Crowbrough and Budiriro where the polio virus was detected in the sewage,” said Dr Mombeshora.
He said that they were ramping up surveillance systems to try screening residents in the areas to see if there have been any infected persons.
“As a matter of urgency, we need the incident management system with an appointed incident manager for polio response to implement a coordinated outbreak response to quickly contain the outbreak and prevent further spread.”