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Friday, January 17, 2014

Pakistan is Largest Reservoir of Endemic Polio Virus

From Voice of America News:
The World Health Organization has declared Pakistan’s restive city of Peshawar the world’s “largest reservoir” of endemic poliovirus. The WHO officials fear Pakistanis could face tough international travel restrictions and visa policies unless transmission of the crippling disease is interrupted through urgent steps.

Researchers at WHO have determined that almost every polio case surfacing in the country during 2013 could be linked genetically to the strains of the virus prevalent in Peshawar.

They added that all the samples collected from various locations of the northwestern city have shown presence of the highly contagious wild poliovirus strain.

WHO’s emergency coordinator for polio eradication in Pakistan, Elias Durry, said local authorities need to take urgent action to strengthen vaccination campaigns to reverse the disturbing trend. He says the situation in Peshawar not only threatens gains the country has made against the crippling disease over the years, but has the potential to undermine global eradication efforts.

“Unless the polio eradication program in Pakistan is able to curtail the transmission in Peshawar, the expansion of the viruses to other places will not stop. So, it is critical that Peshawar, the way it is behaving now, really be able to find ways of interrupting these transmissions that have been consistent throughout the years,” said Durry.
 Perhaps the Taliban should stop killing the aid workers that administer polio vaccinations.

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