WHO Says Polio Is Almost Eradicated in India


Any regular visitor to boiseweekly.com knows there has been a pretty robust dialogue going on ever since our Dec. 14, 2011, feature "Idaho's Epidemic of Fear," chronicling the ongoing debate surrounding vaccinations (we're quickly approaching 400 comments).

Today, the World Health Organization announced that the planet was a major step closer to eradicating polio. This Friday, the nation of India will celebrate a full year since its last reported case of poliomyelitis, which would leave only Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria on a list of nations considered endemic.

"This a game changer in a huge way," said Bruce Aylward, head of the WHO's global polio campaign.

In 2009, India had 741 cases. That plunged to 42 in 2010. Last year, there was a single case.

The WHO said tight monitoring allowed health officials to quickly hit areas of outbreaks with emergency vaccinations. A new vaccine was also rolled out in 2010 that targeted two remaining strains of the disease.

The country will not be certified as completely polio-free until at least three full years pass without a case.