The vaccine-preventable disease has already spread across the borders of these three countries with neighboring Equatorial Guinea, Afghanistan and Iraq also infected.
Declaring the situation a public health emergency of international concern, the World Health Organization on Monday said “the consequences of further international spread are particularly acute today given the large number of polio-free but conflict-torn and fragile States” where vaccination programs have been interrupted because of fighting.
Ethiopia, Israel, Somalia as well as Nigeria have also recorded cases of polio in the past year whereas prior to 2013 only three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan – were considered endemic countries. The number of cases had decreased from some 350,000 in 1988 to 223 in 2012 as it seemed that the virus would join smallpox and rinderpest as the only diseases ever eradicated.
There were 417 polio cases last year, according to the Global Eradication Initiative.
Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Lebanon are at high risk of becoming infected countries due to their proximity to currently infected countries and the risk of conflict interrupting vaccination campaigns there.
– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz