Thursday, September 22, 2011

Polio Outbreak in China

Beijing (CNN) -- An outbreak of polio has been confirmed in China for the first time since 1999, leaving one person dead and hospitalizing another nine, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The disease, a contagious viral illness that in its most severe form causes paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death, broke out in the prefectures of Hotan and Bazhou in the country's western Xinjiang province.

Among the ten cases confirmed, six are in children under three years old and four are young adults.  See the rest of the story .

Polio, also known as poliomyelitis, is a viral disease which is transmitted by fecal-oral or oral-oral contact. It invades the nervous system and often leads to permanent paralysis. It can be prevented by immunization.

Most people, Americans especially, think of Polio as a disease that was eradicated decades ago, but that is not the case.  Though the number of reported cases have been greatly reduced, we have not achieved global eradication...yet.

In 1988, the World Health Organization, together with Rotary International, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention passed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, with the goal of eradicating polio by the year 2000.  The initiative continues today.

Polio vaccination remains a part of routine immunizations for children in the US, but a one-time Polio booster for adults is often recommended for those who will be traveling to endemic areas such as Africa, India, Indonesia and the Arabian Peninsula, or if their last Polio immunization was over 10 years ago.

Contact Passport Health if you are interested in obtaining the Polio vaccination.  Our 200 nationwide locations are equipped with knowledgeable Travel Medicine Specialists to counsel you on the best ways to stay safe and healthy while you travel here and abroad.

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