The World Health Organization said on Monday that polio cases in Nigeria are up 400% over last year, with 43 reported cases this year as opposed to 11 last year.
The WHO says that polio now affects eight states in northern Nigeria, which is up two more than just a few months ago, the BBC reports. WHO official Thomas Moran said that controlling the polio virus in Nigeria is the key to eradicating the disease in Africa.
Moran went on to say that the agency was working hard to prevent the spread of the disease by carrying out large scale vaccination programs in the area. Still, the disease has crept onto several neighboring countries, including Chad, Mali and Ivory Coast.
The official said that Nigerian’s government has been largely cooperative with WHO’s efforts to wipe out the disease in the region.
“The immunity profile of Nigerian children is far better [now], which limits the risk of international spread of the virus,” he said. “You can call it a four-fold increase but it is still very low transmission in a country as large as Nigeria with almost 50m children under five.”
Nigeria is one of only four nations in the world where polio is still considered to be a serious medical threat. The other three countries include Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.
[Image credit: REUTERS / Wayne Conradie]