WHO Declares Polio a Global Health Emergency
First time the organization has done so
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 5, 2014 1:41 PM CDT
In this file photo dated Monday Nov. 25, 2013, a Pakistani child is vaccinated against polio by a health worker in Islamabad, Pakistan, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013.   (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen, FILE)

(Newser) – For the first time ever, the World Health Organization today declared the spread of polio an international public health emergency that could grow in the next few months and unravel the nearly three-decade effort to eradicate the crippling disease. The agency described current polio outbreaks across at least 10 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as an "extraordinary event" that required a coordinated international response. It identified Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon as having allowed the virus to spread beyond their borders, and recommended that those three governments require citizens to obtain a certificate proving they have been vaccinated for polio before traveling abroad.

Experts are particularly concerned that polio is re-emerging in countries previously free of the disease, such as Syria, Somalia, and Iraq, where civil war or unrest now complicates efforts to contain the virus. It is happening during the traditionally low season for the spread of polio, leaving experts worried that cases could spike as the weather becomes warmer and wetter in the coming months across the northern hemisphere. The vast majority of new cases are in Pakistan, a country which an independent monitoring board set up by the WHO has called "a powder keg that could ignite widespread polio transmission." At the end of last month, there were 68 confirmed polio cases worldwide, compared with just 24 at the same time last year.

Copyright 2016 Newser, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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Showing 3 of 32 comments
Diana Truong
Jul 2, 2014 6:38 PM CDT
Read another interesting article on the CIA's role in the vaccination against polio...check it out here: http://www.borgenmagazine.com/honest-vaccine-cia-war-polio/
BCS
May 6, 2014 11:39 AM CDT
We don't wipe our asses with our hands in this country, so theres not much to worry about here in the US, or any other fully developed country.
Chris Farley
May 6, 2014 6:27 AM CDT
This is crazy and scary. I dont really see how it fits to all the comments on US Vaccination schedules, but whatever. there was a time when people declared Polio as being wiped off the world.