Tweet chat: Chasing down polio, eradication in sight

David Gilkey

Ado Ibrahim carries his son Aminu through a village in northern Nigeria. Aminu was paralyzed by polio in August.

Polio is on the ropes.

Thanks to vigorous efforts to eradicate the virus through vaccination, there are only three countries on the face of the earth where polio is still endemic.

Reported cases of the paralytic virus worldwide stand at 177 so far this year compared with 350,000 in the late 1980s.

Can polio be wiped out? The target is within sight.

Jackie Northam reported from Pakistan, one of the three, on the challenges posed by the Taliban to vaccination. Despite problems, the count of new polio cases this has fallen to about one-third of last year's total of 198.

Next door, India has subdued polio, as Julie McCarthy reported. There hasn't been a new polio case there since January 2011. But India will have to be free of polio for three years before the World Health Organization will declare the country polio-free.

Jason Beaubien reported from northern Nigeria, where he found polio remains a "difficult and contentious foe." Chaos and indifference have slowed vaccination efforts.

We'll be chatting on Twitter with Beaubien (@jasonbnpr) and Northam (@jackienortham) Friday at noon EDT. Health correspondent Richard Knox (@DickKnox) will chime in, too.

You can get in on the action by following @NPRglobalhealth and please look for the hashtag #chasingpolio.

We'll archive highlights from the chat here.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio.

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