Polio, once a worldwide scourge, is endemic in just three countries now - Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Pictured here is Ameena, a Pakistani girl participating in an anti-polio campaign, showing her ink-marked finger after being vaccinated for polio in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Monday, October 7, 2013.
The spread of polio constitutes an international public health emergency, the World Health Organization declared Monday. “If unchecked, this situation could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world’s most serious vaccine preventable diseases,” the WHO said in a statement. At the end of 2013, 60% of polio cases resulted from the international spread of the virus, and “there was increasing evidence that adult travelers contributed to the spread,” according to the statement. Polio mainly affects children under the age of 5, according to the WHO. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis; 5 to 10% of patients die when their breathing muscles become immobilized. It can only be prevented by vaccination. More