One of two remaining polio virus types may be eliminated in Pakistan

Steven Wassilak

Despite the challenges facing childhood vaccinations in Pakistan, one of three polio endemic countries left in the world, the country may be close to eliminating one of the two types of wild polio virus.

New data from Pakistan shows that WPV3, one of the two types of wild polio virus circulating in the country, is approaching elimination, Science Daily reports.

“There have not been any Type 3 cases reported for six months, which is the longest gap in incidence there to date,” Steven Wassilak, a polio expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, according to Science Daily. “CDC works with Pakistan officials to monitor different chains of transmission over time and Type 3 is now down to only one chain, which is an indication that we are close to breaking the last link of Type 3.”

Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan are the three remaining polio endemic countries. Health officials are attempting to make polio the second human disease after smallpox to be completely eradicated.

One challenge facing officials in Pakistan is parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated. A recent study by the World Health Organization found that parent refusal accounted for 74 percent of missed immunizations in Karachi, Pakistan.

“We found that in Karachi, a key reason children fail to get immunizations is not due to lack of access, but because their parents refuse to participate,” Anita Zaidi, a pediatrician at the Karachi-based Aga Khan University, said, according to Science Daily. “That is a big challenge and not something that can be overcome only by expanding immunization campaigns.”

Worldwide polio cases are down in 2012. Through October, there were 177 reported polio cases this year, down from 502 during the same period in 2011, Science Daily reports.

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