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Bangladesh polio case fresh setback to global battle

Written by: Staff

GENEVA, Mar 16 (Reuters) Bangladesh has reported its first case of polio in nearly six years, dealing a fresh blow to a global campaign to eradicate the crippling disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) today said.

A nine-year-old girl in the southern Chittagong province was paralysed in January. Genetic sequencing has confirmed it was the polio virus and that it was closely related to viruses detected in India, the WHO said in a statement.

She was the first case reported since August 2000 in Bangladesh, which will launch a nationwide polio immunisation campaign on April 16, it said.

Polio, caused by a viral infection involving the brain and spinal cord, can paralyse a child within hours.

It enters the body through the mouth when people eat food or drink water contaminated with faeces.

The United Nations agency, which launched a worldwide campaign in 1988 to wipe out polio, failed to reach its target of halting transmission worldwide by the end of 2005.

It announced last month that Egypt and Niger were free of endemic polio, leaving only four countries where polio is endemic -- Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

''Until polio is gone from endemic areas, we will continue to see importations to polio-free countries,'' WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer said today.

Indonesia and Yemen were still fighting outbreaks which began last year, he added.

Reuters SY DB1847

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