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African polio found in Indonesia JAKARTA - Medics said today they had detected a case of the crippling polio virus in Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, indicating that an outbreak rooted in Africa has leapt the Indian Ocean.

The case, affecting a 20-month-old girl on Java island, is the first polio infection in Indonesia for nine years, according to Bardan Rana, a medical officer with the UN's World Health Organisation. Rana said tests on the virus indicated it may have been transported from Saudi Arabia, which has been hit by an outbreak that originated from Nigeria and spread across Africa and the Red Sea.

"There has been a case in Indonesia, the lab has confirmed it. The sequencing has shown that the case was imported and matches strains of the virus found in Saudi Arabia," he said. The virus is believed to have been carried to Saudi Arabia by Muslim pilgrims heading to Mecca. It may have been passed on to Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-populated country, in the same way or through migrant workers.

"There are a lot of ports of entry and a lot of people working in the Middle East. It's not definite, but this is the most likely route," said Rana. Polio remains endemic in only six countries, including Afghanistan, Egypt, India, Niger, Nigeria and Pakistan, with vaccination programmes driving down the number of cases from 350,000 in 1988 to 1,243 last year.

But a handful of African and Middle Eastern nations have reported being reinfected following a ban last year on a polio vaccine in Nigeria, prompted by radical clerics who spread rumours that it had been contaminated by US agents. Rana said the Indonesian government had mobilised a major vaccination campaign targeting millions of children in the densely populated region of Sukabumi in West Java province where the case was detected on April 21.

"All children under the age of five are being immunised by teams going house-to-house in four surrounding villages. Surveillance has been intensified and spread to a much wider area." He said that so far, no other infections have been detected. "This is the only case found in routine surveillance that has been ongoing for the past nine years. The fact that this was picked up shows that the surveillance is effective."

Rana said that although there was resistance to immunisation in many Muslim countries because of fears that the vaccine could lead to impotency, there were very few refusals in Indonesia.


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Polio in Indonesia


Posted in Polio @ 03 May 2005 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





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34 new polio cases in Indonesia for total of 100


The World Health Organization on Tuesday reported 34 new polio cases in Indonesia, bringing the country's known total to 100. One of the new cases was confirmed on Sumatra, which until last week was polio-free.


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Polio vaccination drive largely successful


Indonesia's nationwide drive last week to vaccinate about 24 million young children against a spreading polio outbreak was largely successful though some parents continued to resist, health officials said Monday.


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