Friday, December 31, 2010

Tajikistan nears end of polio epidemic

From Central Asia Newswire:

If no new polio cases are detected over the coming week, Tajikistan will be able to declare an end to the epidemic that broke out last summer.

The country’s Deputy Health Minister Azam Mirzoev said authorities confirmed the last polio case on July 4,Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported on Wednesday.

According to international medical standards, an epidemic is considered to be over if no new polio cases are detected over a period of six months. The six-month period will be up next Tuesday.

The polio epidemic killed 29 children while 458 cases were confirmed by laboratories, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported.

Around 110 children who survived the disease, which damages the nervous system and causes paralysis, have been left permanently disabled.

WHO reported that 709 cases of acute flaccid paralysis, the primary symptom of polio, had been recorded during that period. Laboratory tests confirmed that 458 of those were of the wild poliovirus type 1.

Nusratullo Amirov, the official medical representative of Healthy Life Center in the southern Khatlon province, the epicenter of the epidemic, told RFE/RL that at least eight in 10 cases could have been avoided if parents had vaccinated their children as advised.

Polio was previously detected in Tajikistan in 2007.