Polio Returns To Venezuela 30 Years After Last Known Case, Report Says

Maricruz Casares
Junio 13, 2018

A deadly and highly infectious disease that was thought to be eradicated has returned to Venezuela.

Polio, which can only be prevented through immunization, has been found again in a Venezuelan child according to the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). The virus, which mainly affects young children, spreads from person to person and can also be transmitted through contaminated food and water.

Symptoms include high temperature, sore throats, headaches, migraines, and vomiting.

The health organization adds that in a small number of cases, polio can cause paralysis that is often permanent. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of many people who were paralyzed by the disease in the 20th Century. Local health authorities took more than a month to notify the PAHO that they had identified a case of polio, although worldwide health regulations require them to do so within 24 hours.

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Jose Felix Oletta, former Minister of Health, the last case of severe polio in the country was reported in the year 1989.

The diagnosis comes as Venezuela, with an estimated population of 31.3 million, experiences political and economic turmoil, resulting in a humanitarian and health care crisis. The U.S. government issued a warning for all American citizens to leave the area last July.

According to the PAHO, the case of polio was discovered among an isolated and impoverished indigenous group.

Venezuela, devastated by economic and political crises, also accounted for 85 percent of cases of measles reported across Latin America and the Caribbean over the past year, the PAHO said.

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