Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Polio Makes a Comeback

BBC today reported:

Indonesian authorities have confirmed a second case of polio, a day after announcing they had discovered the first case for almost 10 years.

The World Health Organization reported last Friday, April 29, 2005:
Eighteen new cases of polio have today been announced in Yemen, bringing the reported total number associated with an outbreak in the country to 22.

From Reuters/WHO, here are key facts about polio:

  • Indonesia is the 16th previously polio-free country to be reinfected in the past two years, including 13 in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). WHO said last week that a polio epidemic had broken out in Yemen, infecting 22 children.

  • Following a polio eradication initiative by WHO, polio cases have been drastically reduced from an estimated 350,000 cases worldwide in 1988 to 1,267 cases in 2004, up from 784 the previous year. The majority of new cases were in Nigeria where vaccinations were temporarily banned in some areas. Ninety-eight percent of all polio cases occur in Nigeria, India and Pakistan.

  • Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a viral disease of the brain and spinal cord that can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours.

  • Polio mainly affects children under five. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs. Amongst those paralysed, 5 to 10 percent die when their breathing fails.

  • There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life. Vaccines can be oral or injectable.

Links:
Second polio case in Indonesia [BBC, May 4, 2005]
Polio outbreak spreads across Yemen [WHO, Apr. 29, 2005]
Key facts about polio [Reuters, May 4, 2005]
Polio [wikipedia.org]

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