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New Outbreak As Polio Refuses To Go Quietly
New Scientist ^ | 6-6-2006 | Linda Gedes

Posted on 06/07/2006 4:42:49 PM PDT by blam

New outbreak as polio refuses to go quietly

17:44 07 June 2006 news service
Linda Geddes

Namibia is suffering its first polio outbreak in more than a decade, setting back hopes that the disease might be eradicated from the world by the end of 2006.

Three human cases of wild polio virus have been confirmed in Namibia so far, while a further 33 cases - including six deaths - are currently being investigated, say officials from the World Health Organization. The last recorded case of the disease in the country was in 1996.

The Namibian outbreak is the latest setback in the global eradication campaign. WHO figures released in May suggested that there had been 453 confirmed cases of polio between January and May - up by 67 cases on the same period in 2005.

The vast majority of these cases were in Nigeria, followed by India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The disease remains endemic in all of these countries.

Universal vaccination Namibian authorities have acted quickly by expanding and accelerating plans for a large polio vaccination campaign that was due to start at the end of June. They now hope to begin vaccinating Namibia’s entire population of 2 million in the coming weeks, rather than only children under 5 years old, says Bruce Aylward coordinator for the WHO’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

“Obviously there’s a risk to areas surrounding Namibia, but so far the Namibian authorities are doing everything right,” says Aylward. He says improved immunisation and surveillance would be key to containing the outbreak, but he is confident that the situation will be under control within months.

An initial target of globally eradicating polio by the end of 2005 was revised last year, when it became clear it would not be achieved. The new target of the end of 2006 was announced in October.

Aylwood says the Namibian outbreak is unlikely to be a significant setback as the biggest issue remains tackling polio in endemic countries. “But what it will do is divert supplies of vaccine and financial and technical resources away to a country that shouldn’t really need them,” he says.

Biggest challenge Nigeria, which has seen more than 371 cases of polio in 2006, remains the single biggest challenge, with renewed vaccination campaigns expected to begin later in June.

Genetic analysis of the Namibian virus suggests that it came from Angola, which suffered an outbreak of 10 cases of polio in 2005. Angola, polio-free since 2001, was reinfected by a virus imported from India. Since the Angolan outbreak, a further two cases of the same strain of virus have been confirmed in Congo.

“If anything, these outbreaks highlight the need to eradicate polio in these countries where they’ve never got rid of it,” says Aylward. “If they can’t stop it there, these smaller outbreaks will continue to occur.”

A surprising thing about the Namibian outbreak is that all the confirmed cases so far have been in people over the age of 14. Usually polio only affects children under five, as adults have either previously been exposed to the virus or have already been vaccinated against it.

When polio does infect adults it is potentially more serious, as it is more likely to lead to paralysis and death.

Namibia began routine immunisation for polio in 1990, so it is likely that those adults who have fallen ill during the current outbreak did not receive immunisation as children.

Aylward adds that a suspected case of polio in an 18-month-old boy in Myanmar this week turned out to be a vaccine-derived form of the disease - a rare side-effect of immunisation, rather than a circulating form of the virus. Therefore it does not pose a threat to polio eradication efforts in Asia, he says.

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: go; new; outbreak; polio; quietly; refuses
When I was a youngster, my parents worried endlessly about their kids getting polio.
1 posted on 06/07/2006 4:42:52 PM PDT by blam
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To: blam
I sure hope that once polio is eradicated, we don't let the bureaucrats take polio vaccine off the market the way they took smallpox vaccine off the market. I'd sure hate to see the US population gradually get vulnerable to a bioterrorism attack with polio. There were some researchers a few years ago who were able to create polio in a laboratory just from the published DNA sequences of polio viruses. Who really believes there's no malevolent dictators or terrorist groups that have saved samples of the polio virus for just such use?
2 posted on 06/07/2006 5:53:57 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
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To: blam
We almost had polio eradicated a few years ago, but as usual the Mahometan filth screwed things up for everybody else in the world.

Some pig-ignorant Nigerian imam announced that vaccination was a Jewish plot to shrink the penises of Muslim men, and now babies are dying and being paralyzed all over Africa. Thanks Mohammed!

(I can tell you that if the wicked Jews did invent a way to shrink the penises of Muslims, I'd be all in favor of it, so perhaps in some sense his fears are valid.)


3 posted on 06/07/2006 6:59:40 PM PDT by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order)
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To: ccmay
"(I can tell you that if the wicked Jews did invent a way to shrink the penises of Muslims, I'd be all in favor of it, so perhaps in some sense his fears are valid.)"

Well, it looks like the effort to shrink their brains has been successful.

These POS Islamists are complete idiots.

4 posted on 06/07/2006 7:17:18 PM PDT by blam
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