Cameroon declares polio public emergency after 4-year absence

Polio is a highly infections viral disease which mainly affects young children and can only be prevented through immunisation (pictured April 2017) (AFP Photo/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI)

Yaoundé (AFP) - Cameroon has declared a public emergency after reporting a polio case in its far north, four years after the virus disappeared from the country, the health ministry said on Thursday.

The confirmed case of polio type 2 was found in the Mada area in the remote north bordering Chad and Nigeria, the ministry said in a statement.

It declared a "new polio epidemic following the confirmation of a case of poliovirus type 2 detected in samples."

A source at the ministry said the outbreak may have been caused in part by a refusal of vaccinations and the cross-border movement of people in the area.

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease which mainly affects young children and can result in permanent paralysis. There is no cure and it can only be prevented through immunisation.

International polio vaccination efforts have run into problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Militants and religious leaders in rural areas often tell locals immunisation is part of a shadowy conspiracy to weaken their faith.