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World Health Organization Warns, Spread of Polio Is an Extraordinary Event

May 6, 2014 (EIRNS)—The World Health Organization’s Members of the Emergency Committee held a meeting in late April and issued a statement that the international spread of polio to date in 2014 constitutes an "extraordinary event," and a public health risk to other states for which a coordinated international response is essential. The current situation stands in stark contrast to the near-cessation of international spread of wild poliovirus from January 2012 through the 2013 low transmission season for this disease (i.e. January to April), the UN body said.

The WHO noted that Syria, once polio free, has now become infected. There were earlier reports that foreign terrorist-fighters who have been assembled by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and with the backing of the United States, Great Britain, and France, to dismantle the Bashar al-Assad government, have carried the poliovirus into Syria. Many of these jihadis come from countries where wild poliovirus has not yet been stamped out.

The WHO pointed out that during the 2014 low transmission season, there has already been international spread of wild poliovirus from 3 of the 10 states that are currently infected: in central Asia (from Pakistan to Afghanistan), in the Middle East (Syrian Arab Republic to Iraq), and in Central Africa (Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea). Pointing out that Pakistan, Cameroon, and Syria pose the greatest risk of further wild poliovirus exportations in 2014, WHO said those three nations must officially declare at the level of head of state or government, that the interruption of poliovirus transmission is a national public health emergency, and ensure that all residents and long-term visitors (i.e., more than four weeks) receive a dose of oral poliovirus (OPV) or inactivated poliovirus vaccine.

Responding to the WHO’s call, Pakistan’s Health Ministry has announced it will set up mandatory polio immunization points at its international airports. According to the WHO, Pakistan recorded 91 cases of polio last year, up from 58 in 2012. It has also recorded 59 of the world’s 74 cases this year.