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CDC: Africa could be Polio-Free within the Near Future

Update Date: Nov 21, 2014 10:42 AM EST

Africa is very close to eradicating polio, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported. According to the agency, vaccination efforts in Nigeria contributed greatly to the decline in wild poliovirus cases.

"Interrupting all poliovirus circulation in Nigeria is achievable," the authors wrote according to TIME.

In the report, the researchers stated that there have been no confirmed cases of polio in Africa since August. They added that the six cases they found earlier this year from January to September were exclusively in Nigeria, which is one of the three nations that still have polio cases. The other two nations are Pakistan and Afghanistan. Last year, the number of polio cases counted in Nigeria was 49.

With improved vaccination efforts, focused on Nigeria's northern states, the rates have fallen drastically. Based on this trend, the CDC believes that polio will soon be eradicated in Nigeria, making Africa a polio free nation.

Polio, also known as poliomyelitis, is caused by the poliovirus, which is a highly contagious disease. Once infected, the virus spreads through the brain and spinal cord, leading to paralysis. Milder symptoms that can manifest are sore throat, fever, nausea, tiredness, headache and stomach pain. Since there is no cure for the disease, vaccination is the best form of protection against it.

For more information on the CDC's efforts to end polio, click here.

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