A polio epidemic in southern Congo has claimed the lives of 101 people since early October, according to a recent report.
The number of deaths had risen from 78 reported Tuesday, while the total number of cases registered was up from more than 180 to 204, a government health bulletin said.
AdvertisementThe World Health Organisation (WHO) has partly attributed the outbreak in the central African country, which had not registered a case since 2000, to Congo's poor health and hygiene infrastructure.
The bulletin said the deaths included 97 in the coastal region of Pointe-Noire, two at Dolisie in the centre-west, one at Nkayi in the southwest and one in the capital Brazzaville.
State television Wednesday showed pictures of a visit by Health Minister Georges Moyen to hospitals in Pinte-Noire, the country's economic and oil capital which has a population of 800,000.
"We only have two solutions available, vaccination and measures to ensure individual and collective health and hygiene," he said.
Congolese authorities plan to launch a country-wide vaccination programme on Friday against the virus, starting in Pointe-Noire.
After an absence of a decade, polio now appears to have returned with a vengeance, with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also confirming the reappearance of type 1 polio -- one of three types of the virus.
The majority of Congolese who have contracted the virus to date are between 15 and 40 years who either did not receive enough immunization or none at all, according to health director Alexis Elira Dokekias.
Normally polio primarily affects children.
Dokekias on Tuesday denied polio's reappearance in Congo was due to lack of surveillance, noting the disease has broken out elsewhere over the past decade.
In Africa it has reappeared in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, as well as Namibia and Cape Verde.
Polio has spread again in recent years with cases imported from some of the four endemic nations in Asia and Africa, mainly Nigeria, in a setback to global attempts to eradicate the crippling and sometimes lethal disease.
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