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Global Rollout of New Polio Vaccine 'Largest' in History

155 countries will swap supplies in two weeks

(Newser) - As the world moves " closer than ever to ending polio," more than 150 countries are taking part in what the Global Polio Eradication Initiative calls the "largest and fastest" global rollout of a routine vaccine, NPR reports. The endeavor, which entails swapping out an older oral polio... More »

Polio Virus Lingered in Man's Gut for Decades

And that's bad news for children of anti-vaxxers and the developing world

(Newser) - For nearly his entire life, a 29-year-old man living in the United Kingdom has had the polio virus living in his gut—where the strain has mutated from the weakened form he received in a vaccine as an infant to a much more virulent strain, according to a study published... More »

CIA to Stop Using Vaccines as Spy Cover

Health deans warned ruse could harm polio fight

(Newser) - A top White House official has pledged that the CIA will no longer use vaccination programs as cover for spying operations—a ruse the agency used to target Osama bin Laden before the raid that killed him in 2011. Lisa Monaco, President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, wrote to the... More »

WHO Declares Polio a Global Health Emergency

First time the organization has done so

(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... More »

India Is Free of Polio

It has no new cases in 3 years, says WHO

(Newser) - The World Health Organization has declared India free of polio after three years of no new cases—meaning 80% of the world is now free of the virus. Progress has been steady since a vaccination campaign began among children in 1995, but India's vast population made eradication a constant... More »

Doctors Stumped by Mystery Paralysis Disease

They're not even positive how to describe it

(Newser) - Doctors are hitting brick walls in their search for the cause of the polio-like condition that's partially paralyzed at least two dozen California children, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Doctors assume a virus is at work, but almost all of the patients they're examining weren't tested for... More »

Puzzling Polio-Like Illness Hits Kids in California

Doctors mystified by at least 25 cases

(Newser) - Public health officials are mystified by an outbreak of a polio-like illness that has left at least 25 children in California with paralyzed limbs. The affected children are hit quickly with severe weakness or paralysis, sometimes after a respiratory illness, the Los Angeles Times reports. The first case surfaced in... More »

Afghanistan Hits Ominous New Polio Milestone

Capital sees first case since fall of Taliban

(Newser) - Health workers in Afghanistan are on high alert after a girl was diagnosed with polio in Kabul—the first case the capital has seen since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. An urgent vaccination campaign has been launched in the city, especially in the desperately poor community of former... More »

Syria's Polio Threatens Europe, Warn Doctors

Refugees could inadvertently spread the disease

(Newser) - Polio might just be looking at a comeback tour, thanks to the Syrian civil war. There's a significant risk that the now-rare disease could spread from Syria to Europe, as refugees seek asylum there, a group of German scientists warned in The Lancet today. The danger is that many... More »

WHO Confirms Polio Outbreak in Syria

Finds 10 cases in first outbreak in 14 years

(Newser) - WHO has confirmed it: Syria is experiencing its first polio outbreak in 14 years. The UN body has confirmed 10 cases in the country so far, and another 12 potential cases are being investigated, the BBC reports. Most victims are under two years old and likely were never vaccinated, a... More »

Syria's New Woes: Polio, Flesh-Eating Parasites

Vaccination program breaks down

(Newser) - Syria's clerics last week gave the starving people of Damascus the OK to eat dog , and the bad news has not ended there. The World Health Organization now suspects polio has returned to the country. If verified, these would be the first recorded cases there since 1999. And it'... More »

Somalia Polio Outbreak Is World's Worst

Thousands could have virus

(Newser) - A polio outbreak in Somalia is spreading, with 105 confirmed cases and another 10 confirmed in neighboring Kenya, the UN's humanitarian affairs office says. Health officials are responding with vaccination campaigns that have reached 4 million people since the outbreak began in May, but those health officials cannot access... More »

What It's Like to Live in a Hospital—for 45 Years

BBC profiles Paulo Henrique Machado

(Newser) - Your eyes aren't deceiving you: The headline is correct. Paulo Henrique Machado has lived in a Brazilian hospital not for 45 days or 45 weeks, but for 45 years. The BBC speaks with the inspiring man, whose mother died just two days after he was born and who went... More »

Pakistanis Demand Electricity—by Refusing Kids' Polio Vaccine

Villagers call for mosquito spray, ambulance service

(Newser) - Pakistanis in the northwestern Lakki Marwat district are taking a stand to bring electricity to their region: They won't accept polio vaccinations for their children until they get power. In a protest yesterday, hundreds of villagers refused to let in vaccination teams, the Atlantic reports. The villagers are also... More »

Polio Vaccinators Murdered in Nigeria

Attacks said to be work of Islamic militant group Boko Haram

(Newser) - Two shootings in northern Nigeria have left nine female polio vaccinators dead, in what is thought to be the latest violence by militant Islamic group Boko Haram, reports the BBC . Both attacks were carried out by gunmen riding on a motor tricycle, though it is not clear yet if the... More »

Pakistan Halts Polio Effort After 8 Killings in 2 Days

But some Pakistan officials determined to continue without UN support

(Newser) - The UN and WHO are suspending an anti-polio campaign in Pakistan as the attacks against polio vaccination workers continue, with a total of eight dead in just two days and more injured. The latest attacks in the Peshawar region today killed a supervisor and her driver and critically injured a... More »

Pakistan Taliban Kills 5 Women Vaccinating for Polio

Terror group claims they gunned down US spies

(Newser) - Gunmen shot and killed five women who were administering polio vaccines to children in Pakistan today, in a pair of attacks likely intended to strike fear into health workers across the country. The Taliban has been a vocal opponent of the government's UN-backed drive to vaccinate children against polio,... More »

Taliban Bans Polio Vaccines Until US Drone Strikes End

North Waziristan commander halts vaccines in region

(Newser) - The Taliban has decided to use Pakistan's kids in the fight to end US drone strikes. It announced that it has banned polio vaccines in North Waziristan until said strikes are ended. "Almost every resident of North Waziristan has become a mental patient because of the drone strikes,... More »

Polio Outbreak Hits China

Strain is tied to one found in Pakistan

(Newser) - If you thought polio had been eradicated, you're at least 50% right: The highly infectious virus was "virtually eliminated" from the Western hemisphere in the last century, but remains endemic in Pakistan, among other places, reports the BBC —and a strain circulating there has been genetically tied... More »

'Vaccination Diplomacy': Taliban Helps UN, Karzai

In 'pact with the devil,' group helps get polio vaccine to far-flung regions

(Newser) - The Taliban may be pariahs to much of the world, but the group's indisputable hold on vast swaths of Afghanistan has produced an unusual arrangement: It's working with UN health officials and the Afghan government to wipe out polio. Volunteers travel to normally dangerous regions to vaccinate children, armed with... More »

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