CDC: We are getting closer to polio eradication

The world is closer than ever to polio eradication and health agencies and international organizations must take advantage of the opportunity, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

The CDC issued an update on Friday on the agency's polio eradication efforts. On December 2, 2011, CDC Director Thomas Frieden activated the agency's Emergency Operations Center to strengthen its partnership engagement through the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Later that month, Frieden enlisted the support of the whole CDC community to actively participate in the polio eradication effort.

"If we fail to get over the finish line, we will need to continue expensive control measures for the indefinite future... More importantly, without eradication, a resurgence of polio could paralyze more than 200,000 children worldwide every year within a decade," Frieden said.

Since December 2011, approximately 400 CDC workers have supported the agency's polio eradication efforts, with 136 workers completing 368 field deployments to Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Angola. More than 500 individuals were deployed since December 2011 to work with the STOP Transmission of Polio program in multiple countries to train public health volunteers in the U.S. and globally for polio surveillance and vaccination campaigns.

The EOC has also provided enhanced support to scale up technical expertise and support for polio surveillance and planning, monitoring and implementation of polio vaccination campaigns.

The CDC is also closely collaborating with international partners, including the U.N. Children's Fund, Rotary International, the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Since global polio eradication efforts began in 1988, polio incidence has dropped more than 99 percent. There are only three polio-endemic countries remaining in the world: Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Of all the worldwide polio cases reported in 2012, 217 of the 223 cases were reported from the three remaining endemic countries.