According to the WHO records of 2013, the incidence of poliomyelitis was reduced by more than 99%, the number of endemic countries decreased from 125 in 1988 to 3 in 2013 and over 10 million cases were prevented from poliomyelitis thanks to the intensive use of Oral polio vaccine (OPV). However, the emergence of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus strains (cVDPV), causing serious epidemics like the wild poliovirus, is a major challenge on the final straight towards the goal of eradication and OPV cessation. This paper describes the cVDPVoutbreak that occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from November 2011 to April 2012. All children under 15 years of age with acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) and confirmed presence of cVDPV in the stool samples were included. Thirty (30) children, all from the administrative territories of Bukama and Malemba Nkulu in the Katanga Province (south-east DRC), were reported. The virus responsible was the cVDPV type 2 (0.7% -3.5% divergent from the reference Sabin 2 strain) in 29 children (97%) and the ambiguous vaccine-derived poliovirus strain (0.7% divergent) was confirmed in one case (3%), a boy seventeen months old and already vaccinated four times with OPV. Twentyfive children (83%) were protected by any of the routine EPI vaccines and 3 children (10%) had never received any dose of OPV. In reaction, DRC has conducted five local campaigns over a period of 10 months (from January to October 2012) and the epidemic was stopped after the second round performed in March 2012. As elsewhere in similar conditions, low immunization coverage, poor sanitation conditions and the stop of the use of OPV2 have favoured the emergence of the third cVDPV epidemic in DRC. The implementation of the Strategic Plan for Polio eradication and endgame strategic plan 2013-2018 will prevent the emergence of cVDPV and set up the conditions for a coordinated OPV phase out.
Keywords: Democratic Republic of the Congo; Katanga; Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV); Polio eradication; Poliovirus; Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus.