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Updated: Mon, 05 May 2014 11:48:52 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Polio outbreaks a public health emergency: World Health Organization



Nigeria is one of three countries in the world where the wild polio virus remains endemic. The World Health Organization described the ongoing polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa and the Middle East as an "extraordinary" situation requiring a coordinated international response. Sunday Alabama/Associated Press

Nigeria is one of three countries in the world where the wild polio virus remains endemic. The World Health Organization described the ongoing polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa and the Middle East as an "extraordinary" situation requiring a coordinated international response. Sunday Alabama/Associated Press

The World Health Organization says the spread of polio is an international public health emergency that threatens to infect other countries with the crippling disease.

In an announcement Monday, the agency described the ongoing polio outbreaks in Asia, Africa and the Middle East as an "extraordinary" situation requiring a coordinated international response.

Polio usually strikes children under five and is usually spread via infected water. There is no specific treatment or cure, but several vaccines exist.

Experts are particularly concerned 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 contain the virus.

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

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