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China gets the virus after a decade of declaring themselves polio free

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eHealth Bureau

Till a few days ago we thought that going at the current trends of Polio cases, India might be completely polio free in a few years. In 2011, only 1 case of Polio was reported in the country. While in 2010, the numbers of cases reported were 39 compared to 498 in 2009. Keeping in view the current trend, it seems a Polio free India is just within a couple of years. But it’s never actually over, till even one case remains in any part of the world. Polio poses a particular challenge to countries with unstable politics and weak health systems. It is a communicable, historically devastating disease that was almost eliminated around the world in the second half of the 20th century. China was one of the many countries who managed to eradicate it for over a decade until recently. Four children aged between four months to two years, and are from Hotan region has been diagnosed with this deadly disease. The cases were reported from July 3 to July 17, 2011. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website that the virus has been confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be imported from Pakistan, an area hit by the virus far and wide. Generally, one verified case of polio paralysis represents up to 200 cases of silent infection. As a result, one case of polio in an area that has been considered polio-free is an emergency.Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a viral disease spread through the faecal-oral route. It can strike at any age, but affects mainly children under three and infects persons who do not have immunity against the disease. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs. There is no cure for polio, but the disease can be prevented through immunisation with anti-polio vaccine. More than 198 countries in the world have pledged to eradicate polio. Right now India still figures amongst the polio-endemic countries along with Pakistan, Nigeria & Afghanistan. Although other areas in the world who claim to be polio free are not immediately at risk due to the geographic distance to the affected province, poliovirus can travel great distances and find susceptible populations, no matter where they live. Polio cripples one for life and is a disease that can be eradicated through successful immunization coverage.

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