Web Zap*Germs Archive

May 05, 2005

Nigerian Polio Spreads to Indonesia; Urgent Vaccination Campaign Underway

Nearly a year ago I wrote about the roadblocks to polio vaccination erected by Nigerian Muslim leaders, which were preventing the eradication of the disease. As a result of their believing and spreading conspiracy theories, polio has become epidemic in Nigeria. It has also spread to several other African nations that had been on the verge of eliminating the disease. [More about polio vaccination progress in 2004 and early 2005.]

Now it appears, say news reports, that Nigerian polio has crossed the world to Indonesia (a Muslim nation).
A total of four cases of polio have been confirmed in young children in Indonesia, and health officials fear the outbreak will escalate; several additional possible cases are being investigated.

Polio was believed to have been eradicated in Indonesia more than 10 years ago. An emergency campaign is underway to vaccinate children in a district near Jakarta on May 5-6 in an attempt to halt the spread of the disease.
The virus is related to the West African virus currently causing an epidemic across Africa. The ongoing outbreak so far has re-infected 15 formerly polio-free countries and re-established transmission in six of them.

According to Afrol News, Muslims traveling on pilgrimage or business likely transmitted the disease from Africa to Indonesia:
Health officials assume that the spread from northern Nigeria to Indonesia could have happened as a result of the Hajj, where Muslim pilgrims from all over the world visit holy cities in Saudi Arabia. Alternatively, transmission could have passed through the many migrant workers staying in Saudi Arabia, including Nigerians and Indonesians.


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