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Polio Has Not Returned To South Sudan, After All

Posted: October 31, 2013

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Health officials said that they were mistaken about a polio outbreak in Somalia spreading to South Sudan. Despite previous reports, South Sudan has not recorded any polio cases this year. The new information means that the spread of the virus around the Horn of Africa is more limited than previously thought.

We reported Wednesday that the polio outbreak in Somalia had spread to South Sudan. But health officials say that they were mistaken. There have been no polio cases in the country since 2009.

The World Health Organization said previously that it had confirmed three cases of polio in South Sudan back in August.

"There was a problem in the lab analysis," WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer told Shots Thursday in an email. "So in fact those are not [polio] cases. South Sudan is being removed from the list of infected countries.

"But given that the Horn of Africa outbreak is continuing, South Sudan remains at risk," Rosenbauer wrote. "And immunization activities continue to be implemented in the country."

The polio outbreak in Somalia is currently the largest one in the world, with 174 cases. The virus has spread to Kenya and Ethiopia, which share borders with Somalia.

South Sudan, on the other hand, is hundreds of miles from the Somali border. So the corrected information means that the spread of the virus is more limited than previously thought.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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