Vaccine-derived polio case raises ugly head in Laos
An 8-year-old boy in Laos died in September from a case of vaccine-derived polio, the World Health Organization reported, the latest in a series of setbacks to worldwide efforts to wipe out the disease, according to a Reuters report. Other instances of vaccine-derived polio have been reported in Ukraine and Mali as well.
The WHO said the disease in Laos "suggested the virus strain has been circulating in the area of Bolikhamxay province, which has low immunisation rates, for more than two years," Reuters said in the story.
The WHO stressed that "ending polio for good requires eliminating both wild and vaccine-derived polio," Reuters reported.
The WHO said the chances of polio spreading in Laos were low because the area is not well travelled and because the country planned to increase vaccinations. The country has been free of the wild polio virus since 1993, Reuters reported.
Global efforts to wipe out the so-called "wild" polio virus have made great strides in recent years, but the disease still arises in areas of South Asia like Pakistan, India and Afghanistan where inoculation campaigns are often opposed by various tribes who accuse the West of using them to poison people.
In October, reports surfaced that additional cases of polio had arisen in Pakistan, bringing the total to 38 for the year. A three-day vaccination campaign in Karachi was being held up by a lack of security, which is key because 78 people have been murdered in the country between 2012 and early 2015 simply because they were trying to administer vaccines, according to the Indian web news portal The Citizen.
Attacks against health workers in Pakistan increased after it became known that the CIA had used a vaccination program as a cover story to try to get DNA samples of children related to Osama bin Laden when the CIA discovered he was hiding in the country.
In a related development, the WHO in September said areas of India near Pakistan and Afghanistan were at risk because of the disease in those countries, The Citizen reported.
Health officials in Afghanistan reported last week that ISIL militants in the country's east were disrupting a polio vaccination program, putting 46,000 children in the area at risk, according to a report by Iran's PressTV.