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The United States and Russia join forces to fight polio

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) put out a press release Thursday outlining a partnership between the US government and the government of the Russian Federation by signing a Protocol of Intent on Cooperation for the Global Eradication of Polio.

The Protocol of Intent signed through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation (MOHSD), outlines a globally-based partnership on polio eradication.

The partnership may include disease surveillance, support for immunization campaigns, technical assistance, advocacy efforts, and other areas to dramatically reduce the global burden of disability and death from polio, especially among the world's children.

Polio is caused by the poliovirus types 1, 2 and 3. All three types cause paralysis, with wild poliovirus type 1 being isolated from paralysis cases most often.

This viral infection is primarily spread from person to person through the fecal-oral route. However, in places where sanitation is very good, transmission though throat secretions may be considered more important.

Polio is recognized in about 1 percent of infections by flaccid paralysis, while over 90 percent of infections are unapparent.

Paralysis of poliomyelitis is usually asymmetric and the site of paralysis depends on the location of nerve cell destruction on the spinal cord or brain stem. Legs are affected more often than the arms.

Paralysis of the respiration can be life threatening.

Polio must be differentiated from other paralytic diseases like botulism and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

With immunization, by the end of 2007, polioviruses were limited to only four countries who had not succeeded in interrupting transmission; Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. However, the risk of importation of polio remains a problem.

Most cases of polio are in children under the age of three.

Prevention of polio is through immunization, either through the live oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) or the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV).

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