Spread Of Polio Declared World Health Emergency

The spread of polio is a global health emergency, the World Health Organization announced Monday.

War and civil unrest have hampered efforts to vaccinate children against the disease. (File)

LONDON (May 5, 2014) The spread of polio is a global public health emergency that threatens to infect other countries with the crippling disease, the World Health Organization announced Monday, describing ongoing outbreaks in Asia, Africa and the Middle East as an "extraordinary" situation requiring a coordinated international response.

Polio usually strikes children younger than five and is usually spread through infected water.

There is no specific treatment or cure, but several vaccines exist.

Experts are particularly concerned that the virus continues to pop up in countries previously free of the disease, such as Syria, Somalia and Iraq where civil war or unrest complicates efforts to vaccinate against the virus.

Some critics say the rapid spread of polio could unravel the nearly three-decade effort to eradicate it.

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