Polio: 63 cases in Yemen

The spread of &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2001/04/14/3582.html ' target=_blank>polio in Yemen and Indonesia is adding new urgency to attempts to contain the disease in countries previously believed to be polio-free, the U.N. health agency said Wednesday.

The outbreak has grown to 63 cases in Yemen, while two more cases were confirmed in Indonesia, bringing the total there to six since May 3, the World Health Organization said.

Six million doses of vaccine are on their way to &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/09/19/36889.html ' target=_blank>Yemen for a second round of immunizations and a vaccination campaign is under way in Indonesia, but experts expect several more polio cases to emerge before the outbreaks are contained.

This happens because polio immunization campaigns often stop once the disease has been beaten. That leaves babies vulnerable to infections brought into the country, tells ABC News.

And while the outbreaks in Yemen and Indonesia can be halted through immunization drives, it could be devastating if the virus were to reach Somalia, where a lack of security would make it difficult to conduct a vaccination campaign, Rosenbauer said.

"We have already seen polio reintroduced in Ethiopia," he said. "If it spreads to Somalia, it will be a problem because it is logistically very, very challenging there."

According to VOA News, vaccination campaigns have started again in Nigeria. But, as people traveled, the virus spread to countries that were polio-free.

Polio attacks the nervous system. It can affect the muscles in the legs, arms and lungs. The virus is spread by human waste. Some victims die.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative began in nineteen eighty-eight. At that time, the virus was found in one hundred twenty-five countries. By two thousand three, there were only six: Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan and Egypt.

Now, experts say the spread of polio is re-established in six other countries, all in Africa. And cases have been found in several more. The Indonesian government plans to vaccinate more than five million children under age five. Health workers have already been going house-to-house in West Java, where the polio cases were discovered.

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