Eastern Africa polio-free, but cases found in Russia

Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:22pm GMT

* Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda report no cases for a year

* But new polio cases detected in Russia and Congo

GENEVA, July 30 (Reuters) - Eastern Africa is free of polio again, with four countries -- Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda -- having reported no cases of the crippling disease for more than a year, U.N. and other aid agencies said on Friday.

But the virus appears to have spread from Tajikistan, where it has paralysed 437 children since April, to infect 6 ethnic Tajiks in Russia, according to the World Health Organisation.

"It was detected in a few individuals in Russia in Tajik communities. An investigation is going on, we don't know where infection took place," WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer told Reuters.

Russia's last confirmed case of polio was in 1996, but if the investigation shows the victims were infected in Tajikistan, they would be classified as part of the epidemic there, he said.

And in another setback to the elusive two-decades-old bid to wipe out polio worldwide, a single known case in the Democratic Republic of Congo may have been imported from Angola, which also has an outbreak, according to the WHO.

Aid agencies are trying to limit further international spread of polio and stop new outbreaks more rapidly. In all, there have been some 576 confirmed cases globally this year, against 1,604 in all of 2009.   Continued...

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