Apr 3, 2009
The number of cases of polio last year climbed – and spread into countries where it was previously wiped out — despite an aggressive worldwide effort to eradicate the potentially paralyzing virus in the nations still battling it half a century after the introduction of the polio vaccine.
An estimated 350,000 cases of the disease occurred annually in 1988, when world leaders launched the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to eliminate the virus in the 125-plus countries where it still existed. By 2006, polio remained endemic to just four countries – Nigeria, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan – and by 2007, the number of reported cases was down to 1,315. But over the next year, infections rose by 26 percent, to 1,655 cases, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
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