4 polio cases in FATA, Pakistan, are the first in 2014
Four cases of wild poliovirus type 1, the first polio cases of the new year, have been reported in Pakistan, the only polio-endemic country in the world that saw an increase in cases last year, according to a Jan 22 report from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI).
The new Pakistani cases all occurred in children in the North Waziristan district of the violence-prone Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where vaccination was suspended by local officials in June 2012.
Pakistan reported 91 cases of polio in 2013. Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan are the only remaining countries in the world in which polio is still endemic.
Vaccination campaigns are under way in Pakistani areas other than FATA, but attacks on healthcare teams continue, reportedly because of belief on the part of violent factions that the vaccination campaigns are works of espionage and are intended to sterilize young Pakistanis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) published the report "Poliomyelitis: intensification of the global eradication initiative" Dec 13 ahead of an executive board meeting going on in Geneva through tomorrow, according to the GPEI. The GPEI also announced that the 2014 annual letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is now available.
This year the Gates letter debunks three myths widely held about solving the world's problems of poverty and health: that poor countries are doomed to stay poor, that foreign aid is a waste, and that saving lives leads to overpopulation. The letter illustrates the flaws in these beliefs and uses polio eradication as an example of foreign aid that works. "Health aid is a phenomenal investment," it says.
Jan 22 GPEI report
Jan 22 CIDRAP News scan on most recent violence
Dec 13 WHO report on polio
2014 Gates annual letter
Study: Measles during pregnancy increases risks
Pregnant women with measles in Namibia have an increased risk of harm to their fetuses and to themselves, according to a new study in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
US and Namibian researchers analyzed outcome data from Namibia's 2009-11 nationwide measles outbreak on 227 pregnant women, 55 of whom had measles. Of the women with measles, 53 (96%) required hospitalization and 5 (12%) died.
The investigators found that measles raised the risk of low birth weight (adjusted relative risk [aRR], 3.5), spontaneous abortion (aRR, 5.9), fetal death (9.0), and maternal death (9.6).
The authors conclude, "Maximizing measles immunity among women of childbearing age would decrease the incidence of gestational measles and the attendant maternal, fetal, and neonatal morbidity and mortality."
Jan 22 J Infect Dis abstract