Pakistan warns of polio outbreak after fresh cases

August 28, 2013

Health officials in Pakistan on Wednesday warned of a serious polio outbreak after the disease was detected in 16 children in a tribal district where militant groups have banned vaccination.

Doctor Khayal Mir Jan, the top health official in Pakistan's militant-infested North Waziristan tribal district, on the Afghan border, told AFP that thousands of children were at risk.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where the highly infectious, crippling disease remains endemic. Infections shot up from a low of 28 in 2005 to almost 200 last year.

"Polio virus has been detected in 16 children since the Taliban ban," Jan told AFP.

"We are waiting for the result of the of another 42 children suspected of having the disease."

Local warlord Hafiz Gul Bahadur banned polio vaccinations in Waziristan in June 2012, alleging the campaign was a cover for espionage.

Bahadur, who is allied with Afghan Taliban fighting US-led troops across the border, said the ban would remain until the US stops drone attacks in the tribal regions. North Waziristan has borne the brunt of the strikes.

Health officials said the disease is in danger of becoming an epidemic and voiced fears that it could spread to the neighbouring districts if vaccination was not begun immediately.

"Every day we are receiving children with polio, we will have to start an anti-polio campaign, otherwise it's becoming epidemic," Jan told AFP.

Most of the children affected were under five years old. Jan said nine cases were detected in Mir Ali town while seven were detected in Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan.

An administrative official in the area said efforts were underway to talk to and support from Islamic scholars had also been sought.

Officials said more than 240,000 in North and South Waziristan were at risk due the ban and have not been administered polio drops since the ban.

An World Health Organization official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed: "Scores of cases have been reported in North Waziristan."

"Several other children have also been paralysed in North Waziristan but we are waiting for their test result as we don't know what virus paralysed them," the official said.

Explore further: Second child contracts polio in Pakistan's Waziristan

Related Stories

240,000 Pakistani children miss anti-polio drive (Update)

March 29, 2013

(AP)—Some 240,000 children have missed U.N.-backed vaccinations against polio because of security concerns in Pakistan's tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, a top official with the World Health Organization said Friday.

Pakistan claims progress in tribal polio vaccination

September 4, 2012

Pakistan Tuesday claimed progress in vaccinating thousands of children against polio in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan which had been inaccessible due to unrest for about three years.

UN polio suspension hits 22,000 Pakistan children

August 2, 2012

Around 22,000 Pakistani children are at risk in Karachi after the World Health Organization suspended polio vaccinations over a spate of bloody shootings, a UN official warned Thursday.

Recommended for you

Zika virus infection alters human and viral RNA

October 20, 2016

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that Zika virus infection leads to modifications of both viral and human genetic material. These modifications—chemical tags known as ...

Food-poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn's disease

October 19, 2016

People who retain a particular bacterium in their gut after a bout of food poisoning may be at an increased risk of developing Crohn's disease later in life, according to a new study led by researchers at McMaster University.

Neurodevelopmental model of Zika may provide rapid answers

October 19, 2016

A newly published study from researchers working in collaboration with the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia demonstrates fetal death and brain damage in early chick embryos similar to microcephaly—a ...

Scientists uncover new facets of Zika-related birth defects

October 17, 2016

In a study that could one day help eliminate the tragic birth defects caused by Zika virus, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have elucidated how the virus attacks the brains of newborns, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.