A child has been diagnosed with a common symptom of polio in Venezuela, where the infectious viral disease has been eradicated since 1989, according to the Pan American Health Organization, a regional apparatus of the World Health Organization. The Western Hemisphere has been certified polio-free since 1994.
In a statement to CNN, the WHO said, “an acute flaccid paralysis case is currently being investigated” in the state of Delta Amacuro, Venezuela. Acute flaccid paralysis is a sudden onset of weakness in or loss of the ability to move any part of the body of a child less than 15 years of age. Until additional laboratory results are received, polio cannot be confirmed, the WHO said.
“Final results are expected over the coming weeks. Acute flaccid paralysis is caused by a number of different causalities, poliovirus being just one of them,” according to the WHO.
This diagnosis of acute flaccid paralysis in a child comes as Venezuela, with an estimated population of 31.3 million, experiences political and economic turmoil, resulting in a humanitarian and health care crisis.
Poliomyelitis, known as polio, is a highly infectious viral disease that invades the brain and spinal cord and causes permanent paralysis in a small proportion of patients, according to the World Health Organization. There is no cure and it can be deadly. The virus, which mainly affects young children, spreads from person to person and can also be transmitted through contaminated food and water.
The Venezuelan child who is diagnosed with acute flaccid paralysis is 2 years and 10 months old and first experienced paralysis on April 29, according to a statement from PAHO. As of May 31, the child continued to experience crippling symptoms. Part of an indigenous community in Venezuela’s northeastern state of Delta Amacuro, the child had not been vaccinated against polio, the statement noted.