Polio cases no longer declining; WHO fears global resurgence

Progress has stalled in ridding the world of polio. An emergency committee of the World Health Organization ...

Posted: Dec 1, 2018 11:47 AM
Updated: Dec 1, 2018 11:47 AM

Progress has stalled in ridding the world of polio. An emergency committee of the World Health Organization unanimously agreed Friday to continue to designate the paralyzing disease a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern." WHO originally designated polio in this way in 2014, deeming it a health threat serious enough to endanger communities worldwide.

This year, WHO has recorded 27 cases of wild poliovirus worldwide, compared with 22 total cases last year. Though the small number of cases may appear insignificant, the committee said the trend is noteworthy because it shows stagnation.

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Poliomyelitis, which is transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or through contaminated food, mainly affects young children. Fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in the limbs are symptoms of the disease, which also can cause permanent paralysis. There is no cure for polio, and it can be prevented only by vaccine.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a partnership of WHO, UNICEF, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rotary International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was initiated 30 years ago. In 1988, polio was endemic in 125 countries and sickened 350,000 children annually, but as a result of the public-private initiative, polio is now endemic in just three nations -- Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan -- while total cases have dropped more than 99%, according to WHO.

On Friday, the WHO emergency committee praised the "continued high level commitment seen in Afghanistan and Pakistan," yet it noted that the number of wild polio cases in Afghanistan has almost doubled in 2018, with 19 cases reported this year, compared with 10 at the same time last year. In Pakistan, the 2018 polio situation is stagnant compared with last year, while in Nigeria, more than two years have passed since the last case of poliovirus was detected, the committee noted.

In 2016, Nigeria reported a case of wild poliovirus after two years with none; WHO committee members did not speculate when the nation, which recorded 27 cases of vaccine-derived polio this year, would be declared free of the disease.

Additionally, outbreaks of various strains of vaccine-derived polio in Somalia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Papua New Guinea and Somalia continue to be of "major concern," the committee said, given that these viruses have rarely spread across borders.

Vaccine-derived polio occurs when the weakened vaccine virus in the oral polio vaccine is excreted and then spreads in the community, according to WHO. The solution for stopping this type of polio is the same as for all polio outbreaks, according to WHO: Every child must be immunized several times with the oral vaccine.

Many countries remain vulnerable, according to WHO. "Gaps in population immunity," including in Western nations, would allow the disease to be imported into a nation where polio no longer exists.

If polio eradication around the globe is not accomplished in the next couple of years, a resurgence of the disease is likely -- much like what is occurring now with measles, the WHO emergency committee said. On Thursday, WHO reported that measles cases, which occurred in all world regions, spiked in 2017 and led to an estimated 110,000 deaths.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 259117

Reported Deaths: 5668
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17436187
Hinds16524328
Harrison13876199
Rankin11000217
Jackson10652187
Lee8981141
Madison8413168
Jones6552112
Forrest6101121
Lauderdale6034189
Lowndes5463119
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Pike266580
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Simpson240069
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Holmes169868
Clay162735
Tallahatchie154935
Stone148424
Clarke143562
Calhoun138021
Smith125825
Yalobusha120234
Walthall113437
Greene112129
Noxubee111425
Montgomery110936
Carroll105922
Lawrence104317
Perry103231
Amite99926
Webster94324
Tunica87621
Jefferson Davis87327
Claiborne86825
Benton84023
Humphreys83624
Kemper79120
Quitman7029
Franklin68716
Choctaw62313
Wilkinson58825
Jefferson55920
Sharkey44217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 432536

Reported Deaths: 6379
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63523957
Mobile30967562
Madison27627201
Tuscaloosa21122268
Montgomery19495326
Shelby18941126
Baldwin16798188
Lee12901102
Morgan12447129
Etowah11911178
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Marshall10322119
Houston8813156
Limestone823176
Cullman8159106
Elmore8056104
DeKalb7796102
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St. Clair7705122
Talladega6347109
Walker5993174
Jackson590341
Colbert543274
Blount541186
Autauga527061
Coffee454160
Dale405482
Franklin371948
Russell345712
Chilton340972
Covington334168
Escambia328344
Dallas310196
Chambers297370
Clarke290536
Tallapoosa2665107
Pike258830
Marion250155
Lawrence249150
Winston231442
Bibb219848
Geneva206946
Marengo205229
Pickens198631
Hale180842
Barbour177836
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Butler171358
Cherokee162530
Henry157523
Monroe150718
Randolph143236
Washington139527
Clay128546
Crenshaw121644
Cleburne119724
Lamar119621
Macon119637
Lowndes112536
Wilcox105822
Bullock101428
Perry99118
Conecuh96320
Sumter89726
Greene76723
Coosa62215
Choctaw51624
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