Friday, April 22, 2005

Polio returns to Yemen

A couple months ago, I wrote about the threat of a resurgence in polio caused by anti-vaccine movements in Nigeria. As I feared, polio is indeed spreading, now to Yemen (which had been free of polio for six years), either out of Mecca after pilgrims brought it there from Africa, or from Sudan where the civil war and genocide are creating the kind of chaos perfect for spreading disease.
Polio has broken out in Yemen and may have been imported by pilgrims returning from Mecca, international health officials said yesterday. The disease appeared to have been on the verge of eradication [i.e., global eradication, not just in Yemen --ed.] in early 2004, but has since spread to several countries across Africa and Saudi Arabia. ...

All the migrating strains originated in Nigeria. Three largely Muslim states in northern Nigeria stopped vaccinating in 2003 after rumors spread that the vaccine was a Western plot to sterilize Muslim women, that it transmitted AIDS, and that it contained pork products. They resumed vaccinations in mid-2004 after entreaties from top Muslim clerics and after state officials visited foreign vaccine factories. But by then new cases were turning up from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and as far south as Botswana.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad, but entirely predictable. That's what happens when vaccination rates fall, for whatever reason. The really sad part is that it is misinformation and superstition that is causing unnecessary suffering. 

Posted by Orac

4/26/2005 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely. I wanted to get mad at someone for causing all this preventable disease, but really the responsibility is so diffuse that it's very hard to blame anyone in particular. After all, the rumors about sterilization etc. weren't spread maliciously or with the intent of spreading polio. It all just seems so stupid. 

Posted by Andrew

4/27/2005 01:13:00 AM  
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