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WHO Experts To Examine Polio Outbreak In Tajikistan

The WHO said it sent six technical experts to assess a small outbreak of polio in Tajikistan, VOA News reports, adding that WHO “says this is the first importation of polio in the European region since Europe was certified as polio-free in 2002.”

They will investigate the seven cases to determine where the virus came from and how it can be prevented from spreading, according to Sona Bari, a spokesperson for the WHO Polio Eradication Initiative. “Planning is already going on for three large-scale vaccination campaigns,” she said. “There are about 864,000 children under the age of five that we will reach with this vaccine. And, surrounding countries, particularly Uzbekistan and Kyrgyztan are being asked to step up their surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis, which is a sign of polio and to look into their immunization rates to make sure that children are adequately protected in those surrounding areas” (Schlein, 4/23).

U.N. News Centre: “Genetic sequencing is under way to identify the origin of the outbreak, [Bari] added, noting that while routine immunization coverage in Tajikistan is around 87 percent, there are sub-pockets in all countries, including remote rural areas, which are less well vaccinated than others,” the news service writes (4/23).