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Polio cases reach 20 in Xinjiang


08:39, December 15, 2011

URUMQI, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- The number of polio cases recorded in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region since an outbreak was confirmed in August has reached 20, local health officials said Wednesday.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention had been testing samples taken from patients in the region diagnosed with Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP), a common indicator of polio, to check for the disease. On Dec. 5, the tests uncovered two new polio cases, said the officials.

One of the samples was taken from a 53-year-old patient from Aksu prefecture who died on Oct. 23, taking the confirmed number of deaths from polio in the Xinjiang outbreak to two.

Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a viral disease of the brain and spinal cord that mainly affects children under five years of age. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs.

AFP is a sudden onset of weakness or paralysis, as is commonly found with polio.

Local health officials said the first three cases of this year's polio outbreak came from abroad.

Xinjiang neighbors three of the four polio-endemic countries in the world: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

The local government has conducted large-scale vaccinations in response to the region's polio epidemic that started in August, when the first cases of the disease in China since 2000 were discovered.

Health authorities said four regions in Xinjiang -- the prefectures of Hotan, Kashgar, Bayingolin and Aksu -- were classified as epidemic zones.

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