World News: Stopping the Spread of Polio

Polio is an endemic in Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan; if unchecked, this could result in “failure to eradicate globally one of the world’s most serious vaccine preventable diseases.” After a 15-year absence, polio re-emerged in Syria in October 2013. This has been exacerbated due to interruption of public health services in the ongoing civil war. Polio commonly affects children under the age of 5, causing irreversible paralysis. Pakistan, Syria, and Cameroon have allowed the virus to spread internationally, but they have been urged to put measures into place to contain further spread. This disease typically does not spread during low transmission season, so this is a cause for additional concern. In order to fight polio, a coordinated international response is crucial. Further spread of the virus may put countries facing civil war at risk of compromised health services and immunization in the future.

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