08 September, 2010

Spotlight News of the Week

Spotlight News of the week:

Polio re-emerges in north-east Afghanistan for the first time in over 10 years:
A new case of polio was identified in the north-east Afghan province of Kunduz bordering Tajikistan, a region that had been polio-free for over a decade. It was initially believed that the source of transmission came from neighboring Tajikistan that is currently experiencing a large polio outbreak. However, it is now believed that the virus may have been carried over by recent refugee immigration from flood-ravaged Pakistan. In response, the Afghanistan Ministry of Health has launched a large-scale vaccination campaign with plans to vaccinate 1.5 million children in five nearby provinces from September 5-7.

What was once a highly infectious and fatal disease that left countless children irreversibly paralyzed, polio is now eradicated from most of the world and remains endemic in only four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Although aggressive vaccination campaigns have decreased the number of cases worldwide by 99% from 350,000 in 1988 to 483 in 2001, the number has since hovered around 1,000 each year.

Additional News highlights

Anthrax in Bangladesh:
Bangladesh has been experiencing an anthrax outbreak among humans and cattle. At least 327 people have been infected, and India is concerned that animals moving across the shared border could bring the disease to Punjab or Haryana.

West Nile Virus in Europe:
Many European countries have seen West Nile Virus cases recently. Although the virus has been seen in Europe before, it is rare in many countries. Greece is seeing widespread cases for the first time with 15 dead and 158 sick. Russia’s southern Volgograd region has had 206 cases and 5 deaths since July 16. Romania has 7 cases and 2 deaths. Hungary first saw the virus in 2003 and now reports two patients being treated. Western Turkey currently has 4 cases and reports 3 deaths. Sicily has reported 49 cases in horses.

Cholera in Cameroon:
Cameroon is facing its worst outbreak of cholera in a decade. Since May 2010 the Health Ministry of Cameroon has confirmed over 5,500 cases and 350 deaths due to cholera in the Nord and Extreme-Nord regions of the country. UNICEF has launched a communications campaign to spread prevention and awareness messages to over 1.6 million school children at risk in a region with limited access to latrines and clean drinking water.

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