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Laos reports 1st indigenous polio case since 1993

An 8-year-old child who died in Laos last month was suffering from type 1 vaccine-derived poliovirus, making it the country's first case of indigenous wild poliovirus since 1993.

The World Health Organization said the child experienced the onset of paralysis on September 7 and died four days later, on September 11.

"Genetic sequencing of the virus confirmed on 6 October that it is vaccine-derived and suggests that it has been circulating in the area for more than two years," the global health body said in a statement.

The victim, who has not been identified, lived in the district of Bolikhan in the central province of Bolikhamxay. Bolikhan district has chronically low immunization rates: reported coverage with 3 doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) was of 40% to 66% between 2009 and 2014; and 44% in 2015 to date.

Lao’s last case of indigenous wild poliovirus was reported in 1993.

Comprehensive outbreak response activities are taking place in response to this outbreak, in line with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Standard Operating Procedures for responding to a poliovirus outbreak, WHO said. A joint team of the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Lao Office of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team has traveled to the province for further assessment.

"Active case finding in the surroundings of the case’s household is ongoing; stool specimens are being collected from healthy children in the case household and community," WHO said.

Emergency operations centers at the national and province levels have been activated.

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