From Itar-Tass News Agency - Thursday, 13 May 2010, 17.54
MOSCOW, May 13 (Itar-Tass) - The two Tajik poliomyelitis-infected baby girls, who have been hospitalized in Russia, are in a satisfactory condition, head of Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Consumers Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor) Gennady Onishchenko told a news conference on Thursday.
According to Onishchenko, one of the girls, a nine-month baby, is undergoing treatment at an Irkutsk-based hospital. Another polio case was diagnosed in an infant girl in Moscow.
The baby in Irkutsk “has normal temperature, her condition is considered as stable, but she still has a facial nerve paralysis,” Onishchenko said, adding that the girl in Moscow is also in a satisfactory condition.
The babies had been brought to Russia before the latter banned any children under the age of six from entering Russia from Tajikistan over a polio outbreak in the republic, the chief sanitary officer said and promised that the two sick babies will receive all necessary treatment and “medics will do their best to prevent their disability.”
The poliomyelitis situation in Russia is under control, with the bulk of population being vaccinated against the disease, Onishchenko said and added that the poliomyelitis virus might be carried by adults from Tajikistan. According to Onishchenko, this is a “so-called wild virus of the Indian origin.”
Currently, about 1,000 children of Russian servicemen are staying on the territory of Tajikistan, Onishchenko said and vowed all of them would be vaccinated. Those of them who are not vaccinated before leaving Tajikistan, will receive a vaccine in Russia. Moreover, about 1,000 Russian regular soldiers serving in Tajikistan will also be vaccinated against poliomyelitis, as will be those servicemen who will arrive to replace them, Onishchenko said.
As of now, 298 poliomyelitis cases have been registered in Tajikistan, of which 15 were lethal. The Russian chief sanitary officer described efforts taken by Tajik medics as “inefficient.”
Poliomyelitis, often referred to as polio or infantile paralysis, is an acute viral infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal-oral route. Although around 90% of polio infections cause no symptoms at all, affected individuals can exhibit a range of symptoms if the virus enters the blood stream. In about 1% of cases the virus enters the central nervous system, preferentially infecting and destroying motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness and acute flaccid paralysis. Different types of paralysis may occur, depending on the nerves involved. The disease mainly affects children of up to three to five years of age and can be prevented by immunization. Babies under one year of age are most sensitive to polio.
The world’s first living polio vaccine technology was elaborated in 1959 in the Soviet Union, and ever since the Poliomyelitis Institute of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences has been producing the vaccine to meet the Russian and foreign demand.
A year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1990, the United Nations set a daring task to eradicate the disease by 2000, but failed. Nonetheless, the World Health Organization (WHO) has succeeded to do away with poliomyelitis in North America in 1994, and in Europe in 2002. Large-scale immunization campaigns of children under five years of age have brought polio occurrence from 350,000 cases in 1988 down to 1,163 cases in 2005. However, polio cases have again been registered in ten countries, where the disease was reported to be eradicated. These countries include Somalia, Indonesia, Yemen, Angola, Ethiopia, Chad, Sudan, Mali, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Cameroon. Poliomyelitis outbreaks have also been registered in India, Nigeria, Niger, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.
As one of the ten most dangerous infections, poliomyelitis has been on Russia’s national preventive immunization calendar since 2001. Under this calendar, children are first vaccinated against poliomyelitis at the age of three months, and then vaccination is repeated four times. Epidemiologists say that a freshly inoculated vaccine is enough to protect children from enteric virus-71 causing aseptic meningitis, but in cases of outbreaks its is strongly recommended to have one more immunization.
According to epidemiologists, from 10 to 15 polio cases are registered in Russia annually, but in such cases the disease is diagnosed after a classical inoculation with a living vaccine. “Such cases are very rare, since they are registered in children with primary immunodeficiency,” a source in the Research Institute of Epidemiology told Itar-Tass. To prevent such cases, since 2008 children have been inoculated with inactive vaccines incapable of causing the disease.