MMWR News Synopsis for Friday, March 8, 2019

Associations Between School Absenteeism, Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Illness, and Income — United States, 2010–2016

CDC Media Relations

Schools can play an important role in educating children about handwashing and hand hygiene to reduce the spread of diseases. Infectious diseases are common in U.S. school-age children. From 2010 to 2016, parents of children from lower-income households were more likely to report recent childhood gastrointestinal and respiratory illnesses than were higher-income parents, but were less likely to report that their child missed school. Although keeping children home from school when sick can be an effective public health practice, lower-income parents who do not have resources such as paid sick leave may not be able to do this. Beyond hand-hygiene education at home, these findings underscore the importance of increased support for school-based programs that promote handwashing to help reduce infectious diseases among school children.

Update on Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus Outbreaks — Democratic Republic of the Congo and Horn of Africa, 2017–2018

CDC Media Relations

Despite the challenges of insecurity and delayed implementation of response activities, polio vaccination campaigns appear to have been effective in containing outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. Outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses resulted in 42 cases of paralytic polio in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and 12 cases in Somalia during 2017-2018. Vaccine-derived polioviruses occur in insufficiently vaccinated populations due to a reversion to virulence – that is, when the weakened live virus contained in the oral polio vaccine regains the ability to cause paralysis. Efforts to contain these outbreaks have been hindered by response delays in the DRC and lack of access to communities due to insecurity in Somalia. Despite these challenges, multiple rounds of polio-vaccination campaigns in DRC and the Horn of Africa appear to have contained the outbreaks in both countries, although continued, intensified disease surveillance is required to be certain of this outcome.

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Page last reviewed: March 1, 2018