Polio outbreak spreads in Tajikistan, WHO warns

A polio outbreak in Tajikistan has spread, with 108 confirmed cases among children, and more expected, the World Health Organisation said.

Polio outbreak spreads in Tajikistan, WHO warns

A polio outbreak in Tajikistan has spread, with 108 confirmed cases among children, and more expected, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The epidemic in the former Soviet republic is the latest setback to the United Nations agency's multi-billion dollar efforts to eradicate the disease worldwide, begun in 1988.

Mass vaccination campaigns are underway in Tajikistan and neighbouring Uzbekistan this week to prevent further spreading of the virus, WHO spokeswoman Sona Bari said.

"There are 108 confirmed cases of polio and we will probably see more cases because a number of cases are still pending analysis," she told Reuters.

Twelve Tajik children had died from paralysis, but it was not yet clear whether these were from polio, she said.

Polio, which spreads in areas with poor sanitation, attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection.

Russian health authorities confirmed last Friday its first polio case in 13 years in a child visiting from Tajikistan.

There were about 1,600 cases of polio in 23 countries last year, according to a WHO progress report submitted to health ministers from its 193 member states holding their annual assembly in Geneva this week.

The virus is considered endemic in four countries -- Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. Insecurity has hampered efforts to reach children with an oral vaccine in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to the WHO.

The WHO has suggested a budget of $2.6 billion for combatting polio in 2010-2012, but says it faces a funding shortfall of about 50 percent for that period.

Nigeria, long seen as key to wiping out polio in Africa, has made impressive progress against the disease in the year since religious leaders backed vaccination, WHO said in March.


Reuters

Last Mod: 18 Mayıs 2010, 16:58
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