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WHO reports 4 cases of polio in Angola
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 10 - 08 - 2007

Four children in the southern African
country of Angola have been infected with polio, the U.N.
health agency reported Friday, but it added that it was
making progress in ridding the world of the deadly disease, according to AP.
The new cases bring to 10 the number of Angolans who have
caught polio this year, the World Health Organization said.
A national vaccination day is scheduled for Aug. 31.
«The quality of the immunization campaigns needs to be
improved» in Angola, said Oliver Rosenbauer, a spokesman
for WHO's polio eradication program. He said WHO was also
working with national authorities to improve surveillance
throughout the country.
Polio has re-emerged in 27 countries in Africa, Asia and
the Middle East since a 2003 vaccine boycott by hard-line
Nigerian Islamic clerics who claimed that an immunization
campaign was part of a U.S.-led plot to render Nigerian
Muslims infertile or infect them with AIDS.
Angola was re-infected in 2005 after a four-year lull in
cases, but all infections have been linked to a separate
Indian strain of the virus. The disease is also endemic in
Afghanistan and Pakistan.
«For us, this isn't really a surprise. Angola has been
clearly infected. They already have an outbreak,»
Rosenbauer told The Associated Press. «They are going to
continue to have to do immunization rounds.»
WHO registered 1,874 cases of polio around the world last
year, an increase from 1,749 in 2005. The vast majority of
cases were in the endemic countries.
So far this year there have been only 345 cases globally,
and Rosenbauer said officials at the health body were
«more optimistic than they have been in a long time»
about the prospects of ultimately eradicating the disease.
He said vaccination campaigns in India are reaching more
and more people, bringing rates down dramatically in some
regions. In the Nigerian state of Kano, where the 2003
crisis originated, there has not been a single case this
year of the type-1 polio that causes the greatest rates of
paralysis and is easiest to catch, he said.
«We're seeing the lowest rates ever in some of the places
where this virus has historically been most entrenched,»
Rosenbauer said.
Polio is spread when people who are not vaccinated come
into contact with the feces of those with the virus, often
through water. It usually attacks the nervous system,
causing paralysis, muscular atrophy, deformation and
sometimes death, though only about one in 200 of those
infected develop symptoms.
When WHO launched its anti-polio campaign in 1988, the
worldwide case count was more than 350,000 annually. The
health body has missed goals of eradicating the disease by
2000 and 2005. Since then no new target date has been set,
though the campaign has already cost over US$4 billion
(¤2.9 billion).

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