Polio Vaccine Virus Mutates – Causes Surge of Cases in Nigeria
Polio, a dreaded paralyzing disease stamped out in the industrialized world, is spreading in Nigeria despite efforts to stamp it out. And health officials say in some cases, it’s caused by the vaccine used to fight it.
Nigeria and most other poor nations use an oral polio vaccine because it’s cheaper, easier, and protects entire communities.
But it is made from a live polio virus — albeit weakened — which carries a small risk of causing polio for every million or so doses given. In even rarer instances, the virus in the vaccine can mutate into a deadlier version that ignites new outbreaks.
The vaccine used in the United States and other Western nations is given in shots, which use a killed virus that cannot cause polio.
So when WHO officials discovered a polio outbreak in Nigeria was sparked by the polio vaccine itself, they assumed it would be easier to stop than a natural “wild” virus.
They were wrong.
In 2007, health experts reported that amid Nigeria’s ongoing outbreak of wild polio viruses, 69 children had also been paralyzed in a new outbreak caused by the mutation of a vaccine’s virus.
(Kinda makes you want to run out and get your H1N1 (Swine Flu) shots, don’t it?)