World Health Organization calls for international response to eradicate the lethal virus
GENEVA - The global spread of polio virus is at alarming rates, World Health Organization warned on Monday, calling for a coordinated international response to fight the deadly virus that was once considered close to extinction.
"The current situation stands in stark contrast to the near-cessation of international spread of wild poliovirus from January 2012 through the 2013," the organization said in a statement released on its website.
The agency warned that three countries -- Syria, Pakistan and Cameroon -- were exporting the virus and urged them to officially declare the interruption of polio transmission as a national public health priority.
Nigeria, Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel and Somalia pose an ongoing risk for new wild polio virus exportations in 2014, the statement said.
The organization called on these countries to implement wide scale immunization campaigns and surveillance for the virus.
Mainly affecting children under 5 years of age, polio leads to irreversible paralysis one in 200 infections, according to data from the organization.
Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350,000 cases to 406 reported cases in 2013. The reduction is considered to be a result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.
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