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Pakistan Has Worst Year Ever For Polio

Health authorities in Pakistan said on October 3 that they have registered 15 new cases of polio, raising the total number of new cases this year to a record high of 202.

Previously, the worst year for the crippling disease in Pakistan was 2001, when 199 new cases were registered.

All of the most recent new cases were from the North Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Rana Mohammad Safdar, from Pakistan’s National Institute of Health, says it has been impossible to launch a polio eradication campaign in the region because of threats from Islamic militants.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is endemic. The highly contagious virus is transmitted in unsanitary conditions but is easily fended off with a vaccine.

But Taliban militants have banned immunizations and attacked polio vaccination teams, accusing them of acting as spies for the United States.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters