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India Frees Itself of Polio 309

An anonymous reader writes "It's been three years since the last recorded polio case in India and health officials hope to officially certify India polio free in the next few weeks. 'Hamid Jafari, director of the WHO's polio-eradication campaign, says the agency's ambitious quest to stop all polio transmission by the end of 2014 is now within reach. If that is achieved, and no new cases crop up for three years, polio—like smallpox—will be officially banished from the planet. "India was one of the most important sources" from where the virus spread to other countries, said Dr. Jafari.'"
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India Frees Itself of Polio

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  • Fantastic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Monday January 13, 2014 @03:27AM (#45937087) Journal
    Great job on the part of India, the Gates foundation, and all involved. For polio to be eradicated forever would be a great thing.
  • Good on them! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @03:30AM (#45937101) Homepage Journal

    From the Polio Eradication Website []:

    Polio remains endemic in three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Until poliovirus transmission is interrupted in these countries, all countries remain at risk of importation of polio, especially in the ‘poliovirus importation belt’ of countries from west Africa to the Horn of Africa.

    Only 372 cases [] worldwide last year! If we're careful, if we can convince certain political groups that polio is not an appropriate weapon of terrorism(*), we'll soon eliminate it completely.

    Interestingly, polio is monitored from the sewage system [] in India. Since that appears to work for polio, people are thinking about using this method to monitor other things: other diseases, weapons manufacture, drug manufacture, and so on.

    (*) Not making this up - some groups in Afghanistan think that spreading polio is a good way to get back at the Great Satan.

  • Re:it'll be back (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @03:31AM (#45937107) Journal

    Given the epidemic of stupid parents that refuse to immunise children nowadays it should not be long till many of the old virus's and diseases rear their ugly heads again.

    I wouldn't call this 'good' news; but polio is sufficiently unpleasant to send your basic chickenshit first world antivaxxer running screaming to the nearest vaccination location (for most childhood diseases for which vaccines are available, you aren't helping your odds by playing at anti-vax; the serious disease effects are still somewhat more common than the vaccine side effects; but polio is a genuinely nasty customer).

    Thankfully it has no animal vectors (of any note in the wild, I'm sure you can buy a mouse model or something that is susceptible in the lab) so it mostly hangs out in areas so remote or underdeveloped that sheer logistical difficulty keeps vaccination efforts sporadic.

    The one nasty anti-vax angle with polio is, I'm ashamed to say, pretty much our fault: The CIA came up with a clever ruse to do some DNA gathering [] under the guise of a vaccination program (one for hepatitis B), and the subsequent revelation of this fact has not done much to quell the 'zOMG vaccines are a western and/or zionist conspiracy against muslims!!!' rumor mongering present in certain areas.

  • Re:it'll be back (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @03:59AM (#45937201)

    The old terrors of disease have been eradicated in developed countries for so long that even the cultural memory is fading. People do not fear a disease they know absolutely nothing of.

    Just ask people what the symptoms of cholora are. Most of them probably don't know, and that's still endemic in parts of the world.

  • Re:Good on them! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 13, 2014 @04:17AM (#45937287)

    The US and other western countries have done this for quite some time now (15-20 years in California that I know of), particularly for monitoring drug consumption of the population as a whole. I'm not sure if the resulting information is made readily available to the public, but there is a government agency out there somewhere collecting this information and using it for something important enough to substantiate the costs involved.

    Source: One of my clients engineers the big compressors that are used to separate waste in sewage plants. Once separated, samples are taken and tested for various compounds.

    They also engineer subsystems that are designed specifically to collect 'unintentional waste of reasonable value' - also known as jewelry. Your wedding ring that went down the shower drain? It didn't get dumped into the ocean. It's most likely that your local sewage plant found it and melted it down for the value of the metal and gems. I found out about this something like ten years ago, and that year my local plant had gained over $400k from reclaimed jewelry. So it seems that sewage treatment really is a dirty business.

  • At constant risk (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @04:19AM (#45937297)

    India will still be at constant risk. This modern secular country is right next to a muzzy hell-hole where attacks on polio workers [] are frequent []. Among the many other things that Islam forbids they have now decided that polio vaccines are unislamic [].

    yet again this (literally) diabolical 'religion' brings death and suffering to the world.

  • Re:Not so fast ! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @05:45AM (#45937559)
    One of the reasons for that was some IDIOT in the CIA apparently using a polio vaccination program as a cover for a covert operation in Pakistan. There's some lines that should not be crossed. Otherwise it makes us little better than the people that turn kids into walking bombs.
  • Hubris (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @07:25AM (#45937919)

    These are merely temporary measures. These diseases come back. We've already seen some of them come back in the US.

    yes, this is largely due to the anti vaccination movement. But consider, that that is all it takes for them to come back.

    They are still out there. Waiting. Breeding. Evolving.

    The only real counter against pandemics is to control the vectors of transmission.

    Take hospitals. What is more effective at controlling infection.

    1. having doctors wash their hands.

    2. spraying everything with industrial antibacterial agents regularly.

    Answer: 1

    Why? While 2 is effective at first it leads to mass bacterial resistance and eventually the immunity of that bacteria to our anti bacterial which renders them ineffective.

    Where as washing your hands will probably always work.

    Look at the way our digestive system handles food. Acid bath. Brutal but effective.

    As to the rest all the various disease we get... control the vectors. The insects that spread some diseases... kill them all. Genocide them. I know some will say "but we need them"... we don't. Mosquitoes are entirely dispensable. Some ecosystems will be disrupted by their loss but something else will fill the void and life will carry on.

    Same thing with ticks etc. Pretty much all the blood suckers should go.

    Next we should make some kind of effort to keep people from coughing on each other and getting each other sick. The chinese have their funny face masks. That's one way to accomplish this task but I'd like to have something less intrusive.

    Something to think on.

    In any case, do that along with keeping the water/food clean and we should be pretty safe.

  • Re:Hubris (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <gterich AT aol DOT com> on Monday January 13, 2014 @08:11AM (#45938051) Journal

    "Mosquitoes are entirely dispensable."

    Tell that to the spiders, frogs, lizards, birds, fish, and the thousands of other species that evolved to subsist primarily on mosquitoes.

    Also tell it to the aquatic plants that would suffocate and die if not for the mosquito larvae eating the detritus and other waste that would otherwise film the surface of stagnant lakes and create a gas-exchange barrier preventing the passage of nitrogen and oxygen.

    The list goes on, but extincting the mosquito would have devastating environmental consequences.

  • I survived polio! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @08:11AM (#45938053) Journal
    I mean I am still alive and polio is (almost) dead!

    I contracted polio in rural India when I was about 5, 10 years after Salk's vaccine was deployed all over the USA. I had switched schools about six times in k-12, (civil servant dad posted to all the distant corners of the realm). In almost every class, in every school I had another victim as classmate. That is anecdotal evidence with the survivor bias too. How many had died? How many did not even attend school?

    Well, I am glad the scourge has been eliminated in India. Hope the fundie clerics do not stand in the way of complete eradication. It is very disheartening the fundie clerics and the Haj pilgrimage is re-introducing it again in far flung regions of the world. If polio found an able adversary in science, it has found a reliable ally in the form of Muslim fundamentalists.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:03AM (#45938673)

    Yes the effort pre-dates the Gates Foundation. But the latest efforts have been partly funded by the Gates Foundation with a challenge grant. The effort was running out of gas until Bill and Melinda stepped up. The greatest thanks should go to the rotarians and health workers in the third world countries where these efforts continue. The logistics required to deliver doses to millions of children in third world conditions is massive.

  • Re:Not so fast ! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:18AM (#45938821) Homepage

    Don't think that this only takes place in Africa and South America. My wife used to work for a private all-girls Catholic junior high school in New York. One year, she was teaching health and needed to cover sex education. They brought in someone else to teach it (which, honestly, my wife welcomed since teaching sex ed in a private Catholic school is kind of like grabbing a dangling power line and hoping it isn't live). This person proceeded to tell the girls a bunch of lies like all condoms have tiny holes in them that let sperm and viruses through.

    My wife complained to the principal. Telling the girls not to have sex before marriage because God says so would be one thing. It is a religious school, after all. But spreading blatant lies like this is just wrong. The principal was shocked (or acted so) and promised to look into it. We don't know if this speaker was ever brought back because soon after this we had our second child and my wife quit her job to stay at home with him.

    Still, the fact that there's someone who sells their services going from school to school spreading lies to scare kids into not having sex is frustrating. All this will do is cause kids to have unprotected sex which will lead to teen pregnancy and STDs. Even if they find out the truth, it means they'll be less likely to trust what an adult tells them and might not listen to another piece of advice that could have been life-saving.

  • Re:Not so fast ! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stdarg ( 456557 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @10:25AM (#45938897)

    It was a real polio vaccination program, and the covert operation caught the #1 terrorist (of whom Pakistan claims they had no knowledge, of course).

    You'd think the so-called "mainstream Muslims" (remember how they tell us only 0.0001% of Muslims are terrorists or support terrorists, terrorism is against Islam, etc) would be happy about both things. Nope!

  • Re:Not so fast ! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:03AM (#45939231)

    Nothing to do with Al Quaeda

    AQ is a big part of it, and for GOOD REASON. The United States used health workers, including people administering polio vaccine, to collect intelligence against AQ and the Taliban. Some AQ people were killed as a result. The US has openly admitted doing this. They did it in Abbottadad, to try to local Osama bin Laden (the film "Zero Dark Thirty" showed health workers collecting intelligence). If you don't want health workers targeted in a war, then don't use them to target others.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll