85 million African children to get polio shot during campaign

GENEVA— The World Health Organization says more than 85 million children under 5 in west and central Africa will be vaccinated against polio.

The agency says the massive vaccination campaign in 19 countries by U.N. agencies and the International Red Cross began March 6. It will involve more than 400,000 volunteers and health workers. Rotary International largely funds the campaign, The Associated Press reported.

The WHO says a 2008 polio outbreak in Nigeria spread throughout western Africa up to Mauritania. It says previous vaccination programs failed to stop the outbreak.

Polio is spread when unvaccinated people come into contact with the feces of those with the virus, often through water. It usually causes paralysis, muscular atrophy, deformation and sometimes death.