Thursday, July 1st, 2004
David Brown, Washington Post
Thursday, July 1, 2004
The World Health Organization warned travelers to northern Nigeria yesterday to get polio vaccine boosters because of “uncontrolled transmission of polio virus” in the region.
The announcement comes as the region enters the season when polio transmission increases, typically rising five- to tenfold. There has been little or no polio immunization in Nigeria’s northern states for more than a year because of rumors that the vaccine is a tool in a global plot to sterilize Muslims.
WHO’s warning, announced in Geneva, is purely advisory. The organization has no power to force the immunization of travelers, or even to monitor it.
Nevertheless, the suggestion that visitors get a polio booster if they have not had one in four years further sounds the alarm that the outbreak in Nigeria presents an “extreme danger” and a “threat to every country,” said David L. Heymann, a WHO physician helping lead the 16-year effort to eradicate polio.