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    'Major Milestone' Reached in Global Polio Eradication

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    Experts said the world was "closer than ever" to defeating polio, but the situation in some regions was still worrying.

    MOSCOW, November 15 (Sputnik) — A "major milestone" in the global battle with polio has been reached, the US Centers for Diseases Control (CDC) has reported.

    Its experts believe that a second of the three forms of poliovirus has been eradicated after mass vaccination campaigns.

    "We may have eradicated a second of three; that's a major milestone," said Dr Stephen Cochi, a senior adviser at the CDC’s Center for Global Health as quoted by The Independent.

    Wild poliovirus type 3 has not been detected for more than two years, and type 2 was eliminated in 1999.

    The last case of polio type 3 was detected in Pakistan in November 2012, according to CDC.

    Although a huge progress in fighting the disease has been made and reported cases have fallen from 350,000 in 1988 to 416 in 2013, in March, experts expressed fears that instability in the Middle East could foreshadow a new outbreak.

    A World Health Organization official described the resurgence of polio as "the most challenging outbreak in the history of polio eradication".

    "Seriously damaged health infrastructure, poor health access and utilization because of insecurity inside Syria, and massive movements of vulnerable and at-risk populations in and out of Syria – all make controlling the outbreak and rendering health protection to Palestine refugees in Syria and across the region very challenging," the official was quoted as saying by The Independent.

    Type 1 remains endemic in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan, although in the African country the number of cases have fallen from 53 in 2013 to six so far.

    "It’s the most prickly one. For reasons that are unclear, this is the most common cause of polio outbreaks and the most frequent cause of paralytic polio," Dr Cochi told BBC.

    "But our biggest problem is getting worse in Pakistan," he added.

    In Pakistan, Cases have risen from 59 last year, to 236 and counting in 2014, according to the latest data from WHO.

    The Taliban prevented many children in some tribal regions from receiving vaccinations for about two years. Since the summer there has been a mass exodus of people from the region after military operations by Pakistan’s army.

    "The good news is now those children are accessible in refugee camps or other parts of the country so they are getting vaccinated," Dr Cochi said. "But the bad news is the poliovirus has spread all over the country and there have been cases from Karachi and Punjab province."

    It means that there is a huge risk of polio spreading in other countries.

    Polio, also referred to as poliomyelitis, is a highly inflectional viral disease, that generally targets young children. It causes paralysis in one out of 200 people. Some children die when the muscles that allow them to breathe stop working.

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    Tags:
    World Health Organization (WHO), virus, outbreak, vaccination, polio, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Nigeria, Pakistan
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