Thursday, 13 May 2010

2 poliomyelitis cases registered in Russia

2 poliomyelitis cases registered in Russia
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.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Russian helicopter unit in Sudan receives UN awards

Russian helicopter unit in Sudan receives UN awards
From RIA Novosti (Khartoum) - Tuesday, 12 May 2010:
Russian helicopter unit in Sudan receives UN awards
© RIA Novos

Personnel of the Russian aviation group operating in Sudan as part of an international peacekeeping operation in the region have been awarded with UN medals, a group official said on Wednesday.

A parade was held with Russian peacekeepers in Sudan to mark the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII. The parade was attended by Lt. Gen. Paban Jung Thapa, the commander of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS).

After the parade, Thapa awarded Russian peacekeepers with medals which the United Nations assigns to peacekeepers of the Sudanese mission.

He also praised the Russian peacekeepers for their contribution in establishing peace and security in Sudan.

The Russian peacekeeping contingent in Sudan comprises 123 personnel and four Mi-8 helicopters equipped according to UN and international standards.

Russian peacekeepers provide transport services for UN military observers in Sudan, including accompanying freight, as well as carry out rescue operations.

In March and April, the Russian helicopter unit transported almost 1,800 passengers and over 86 metric tons of cargo as part of preparations for the country's general elections. The Russian peacekeepers also delivered ballots to polling stations in southern Sudan.

The first unit of Russian peacekeepers arrived in Sudan in April 2006. They are expected to stay - with regular rotations - for five or six years. Rotations are held twice a year, with the next rotation scheduled for June.

The UN Mission in Sudan was established in 2005 to monitor the peace agreement between the government in Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in southern Sudan, which ended the longest-running civil war in Africa.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

'The Big Three' in Moscow: Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin

'The Big Three'

A sand sculpture of 'The Big Three' at the Yalta Conference - Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin - is seen in Moscow.

Source: The Daily Telegraph, Week in pictures: 7 May 2010

Sunday, 9 May 2010

British troops march in red square parade

British troops march in red square parade
From The Independent on Sunday
Sunday, 09 May 2010
By Mark Bulstrode, PA
British soldiers marched on Red Square in Moscow for the first time today to mark the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Seventy-six soldiers from 2 Company 1st Battalion Welsh Guards were representing the UK at the invitation of the Russian Government.

They marched alongside more than 10,500 Russian troops and others from the US and France.

The event - thought to be costing £26 million - also featured a 1,000-strong military band, 161 tanks and missiles and 127 aircraft.

The hour-long parade saw six types of defence equipment on show in a display of military prowess set to dominate the city's sky and roads.

Guardsman Ian Mundy said: "There is a sense of pride to be in this massive parade on Red Square.

"It seems that everyone is interested in us as well and I'm proud to be a part of that."

Lance Corporal John Sanigar added: "It's a brilliant place to be at the moment for the Army and the Welsh Guards."

The Welsh Guards are staying at the Moscow Military Academy as guests of the Russian Army.

They were given a guided tour of the Kremlin, invited to concerts and took part in a cultural tour of the city via a boat trip up the Moscow River.

The Welsh Guards served in Afghanistan six months ago and lost its commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, during the tour.

Lt Col Thorneloe - the most senior British army officer to die in action since the Falklands conflict - was killed alongside Trooper Joshua Hammond by a roadside improvised explosive device.

"It was an emotional tour," said Guardsman Thomas James, whose grandfathers both served in the Second World War.

"This is the first time I've been on official parade in my tunic since we've been back. It's an honour to be here."

Commanding Officer of the Welsh Guards, Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Antelme, said the parade was a "surreal" experience.

"(It is) a historic moment for the Welsh Guards and the British Army, and, of course, for the Russian people," he added.