Yemen polio outbreak spreads

The number of Yemeni children diagnosed with polio has risen to 40, almost double the figure quoted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) at the end of April.

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By  Stuart Qualtrough Published  May 10, 2005

The number of Yemeni children diagnosed with polio has risen to 40, almost double the figure quoted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) at the end of April, a Yemeni Health Ministry official confirmed this week. Yemen, which last reported polio in 1996, is the 15th country to have the disease reappear since mid-2003, including 13 African countries and Saudi Arabia. Officials fear the disease - which mainly affects children under the age of five, causing irreversible paralysis - could still be spreading. The latest cases appeared in various provinces but mostly in the Red Sea port of Hodeidah. The Health Ministry has sent samples from 200 other suspected cases to US laboratories for examination. The WHO, which launched a national vaccination campaign three weeks ago targeting 60,000 children in cooperation with the government, said it was awaiting genetic analysis of the virus to determine its source. The WHO said in late April that 22 Yemeni children were infected and that the number was rising. In 2004, polio cases worldwide jumped to 1,267, up from 784 the previous year, the WHO said.

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