Polio epidemic coming to an end in Tajikistan

A polio epidemic in Tajikistan that began last summer, leading Russia to temporarily ban Tajik children under the age of six from entering the country, is nearly over, according to Azam Mirzoev, the deputy health minister of Tajikistan.

Mirzoev told RFE/RL that the last confirmed case of polio was registered on July 4 and that an epidemic is considered over if there are no new cases registered over a period of six months. Vaccinations for the disease will continue throughout 2011.

Tajikistan had reported 709 cases of acute flaccid paralysis, 458 of which were confirmed for wild poliovirus type 1, according to the World Health Organization. Twenty-nine deaths have occurred among the 458 confirmed polio cases. Four deadly cases occurred in the children younger than one year of age group, 12 in the one to five year old age group, 10 in the six to 14 year old group, and three in children over 15 years of age.

A total of 110 children who contracted the disease are now permanently disabled, RFE/RL reports.

Nusratullo Amirov, the official representative of the Tajikistan Khalton province's Healthy Life Center, told RFE/RL that at least 80 percent of all the registered cases in the province could have potentially been avoided if parents had adopted a serious attitude about vaccination. Some parents did not have their children vaccinated at the proper age or at all.

International organizations have taken steps to ensure that Tajikistan has an adequate amount of the vaccine to provide to children.