Nearly 2.9 million children in Malawi will be vaccinated against polio, after a three-year-old girl fell ill in the capital, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF in Malawi announced on Thursday.
Malawi declared a polio outbreak two weeks ago after tests confirmed the infection and showed the strain was linked to one circulating in Pakistan, where it is still endemic, Reuters reports.
“The resurgence of the wild poliovirus in Malawi … is cause for serious concern,” Rudolf Schwenk, the head of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF in Malawi, said in a statement.
“Vaccination is the only way to protect the children of Malawi from this crippling disease which is highly infectious,” he added.
Polio is a highly infectious disease that invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis within hours.
“While there is no cure, it can be prevented by vaccine,” the World Health Organization has said.