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Africa Has Been Declared Free Of Wild Polio In Massive Milestone

Africa Has Been Declared Free Of Wild Polio In Massive Milestone

After decades of people being afflicted by the debilitating and deadly virus polio, Africans can finally rejoice.

The World Health Organisation has declared the continent is officially free of the wild-form of the disease in a massive milestone.

The virus is usually spread from human-to-human via unclean or contaminated drinking water and has been around for thousands of years.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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While there is no known cure for the virus, a vaccine was developed as early as the 1950s and once it was shipped out to the masses, it helped cut down the number of new infections.

Now, around 95 per cent of Africa has received the polio vaccine.

Nigeria was the last country on the continent to eradicate the wild form of the virus following a massive vaccination campaign. It was difficult to get the vaccine to remote parts of the country and to people living in areas of militant violence.

The WHO said in a statement that this achievement is a massive step forward to ensuring no one else gets afflicted with polio in Africa.

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"Thanks to the relentless efforts by governments, donors, frontline health workers and communities, up to 1.8 million children have been saved from the crippling life-long paralysis," the international health body said.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Around 25 years ago, there were more than 75,000 children across the continent who were paralysed as a result of polio. The latest figures say 177 cases have been recorded this year.

That's thanks to billions of vials of the vaccine being shipped out across the world in 1996. That helped prevent a further 1.8 million more cases from being recorded.

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The WHO says the polio virus 'invades the nervous system, and can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours'. People who contract the virus have symptoms that include 'fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and pain in the limbs'.

Around one in every 200 infections will lead to irreversible paralysis and among five to 10 per cent of those people will die because their breathing muscles will stop working.

After being eliminated from Africa, the virus is now only recorded in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News, Health

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie is a Trending Journalist at LADbible. His first job was as a newsreader and journalist at the award winning Sydney radio station, Macquarie Radio. He was solely responsible for the content broadcast on multiple stations across Australia when the MH17, Germanwings and AirAsia disasters unfolded. Stewart has covered the conflict in Syria for LADbible, interviewing a doctor on the front line, and has contributed to the hugely successful UOKM8 campaign.