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WHO Declares Spread of Polio A World Health Emergency

Update Date: May 05, 2014 09:07 AM EDT
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Even though polio has been eradicated throughout the majority of the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that due to three trouble areas, polio once again poses a huge threat to global health. According to the agency, polio has been spreading from three countries at an alarming rate.

"The international spread of polio to date in 2014 constitutes an 'extraordinary event' and a public health risk to other states for which a co-ordinated international response is essential," the WHO's Emergency Committee said in statement reported by BBC News.

The three countries that have allowed the virus to spread are Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon. The officials stated that cases of polio spread from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Syria to Iraq and Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea. Based on the available information, the officials believe that adult travelers are contributing greatly to the spread of polio.

The emergency committee that came together under the supervision of WHO announced in Geneva that these three countries should now take measures to prevent polio from spreading within their own communities and to other nearby locations. The committee recommends that all children living in these areas be vaccinated or re-vaccinated. Any travelers must be re-inoculated and carry proof that is acceptable according to international standards.

"If unchecked, this situation could result in failure to eradicate globally once of the world's most serious vaccine-preventable diseases," the committee wrote according to the New York Times.

Polio is a viral disease that attacks the nerves and can lead to partial or full paralysis. It tends to affect children under five-years-old. Polio typically spreads through infected waters. Since there is no cure for the disease, vaccination is the best way to prevent it.

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