South Sudan confirms outbreak of vaccine-derived polio

Health officials in South Sudan on Thursday confirmed a new outbreak of polio, just months after declaring the wild version of the deadly virus eradicated in Africa’s youngest country. The health ministry said 15 cases of vaccine-derived polio – a form of the illness which occurs in rare incidents when the weakened virus in the vaccine mutates – had been identified in the country’s northwest. “Yes, there is an outbreak of vaccine-derived polio, and the Ministry of Health and its partners are working on it, and I think it is under control,” the ministry’s director general for preventative health services, Dr John Pasquale Romunu, told reporters. “It has affected quite a number of counties and states.” On August 25, South Sudan was among four African nations to receive confirmation that wild poliovirus had been eradicated within their borders – allowing the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the entire continent free of the crippling disease. It was just the second time a…