WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday said two children in Nigeria have been diagnosed with polio, describing it as a “setback” in the global battle against the disease.
Nigeria has not had a recognized polio incident in two years. The cases were detected in Borno state by Nigeria’s polio surveillance system.
“Polio is a terrible disease that no child should suffer,” the CDC said in a statement. “Confirmation of wild poliovirus in Nigeria is a disappointing setback but doesn’t change our determination to end polio, or the fact that the world has continued to make progress toward polio eradication.”
Borno state has in recent years been threatened by Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group. The CDC said the dangerous security situation in the region can impact the surveillance of the disease and the government’s vaccination efforts.
On Monday, the Nigerian Army said it has defeated Boko Haram though the militant group’s leader, embroiled in a split in the group, said he will fight on. Boko Haram was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Department of State in 2013. The militant Islamic group seeks to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria and has ruthlessly targeted civilians.
Despite the setback, the CDC said it will continue working with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, Rotary International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate polio as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
“This is not the first time that polio eradication efforts have experienced a setback. It is a reminder that we must redouble efforts to strengthen surveillance and immunization activities. We remain 100 percent committed to eradicating polio,” the CDC wrote. “Our experience has taught us that commitment and perseverance are two critical elements needed for success. We continue our commitment to end polio and will persevere until it is eradicated forever.”