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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 May, 2005, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Indonesia confirms girl has polio
By Tim Johnston
BBC, Jakarta

Indonesia has recorded its first case of polio in almost a decade.

It raises fears that the crippling childhood disease could be making a comeback in one of the world's most populous nations.

The case, a young girl, was found in west Java, close to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

DNA tests done on a viral sample from the infant girl has determined the polio arrived in Indonesia from Nigeria, via Saudi Arabia.

It has prompted a mass vaccination programme that will eventually cover some five million children.

The disease has all but disappeared in the developed world, but it is still endemic in Nigeria, a problem that was made worse in 2003 when Muslim clerics there spread rumours that the polio vaccine had been contaminated to make Muslims infertile.

Further cases feared

The World Health Organization had suspected that the girl's paralysis might be related to polio for more than a week and has already vaccinated more than 4,000 children against the disease.

It is the first move in a programme that is expected to reach more than five million children in all.

The head of the WHO in Indonesia, Dr Georg Petersen, told the BBC that there were more suspected cases, with a number of other children also showing tell-tale signs of paralysis.

He said those cases were being investigated to rule out other possible causes, such as meningitis.

Until the middle of last century, when a vaccine was discovered, poliomyelitis was endemic across the globe and the international campaign for universal vaccination has been one of the great successes in the fight against disease of recent years.


SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Polio vaccination drive
18 Nov 04 |  In Pictures


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