Pakistan health officials in Islamabad say the country has experienced a record-breaking number of wild poliovirus (WPV1) cases in 2014, according to a Guardian report today. Rana Mohammad Safdar, a senior official at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad said doctors discovered 202 cases from January to 3 October. The previous modern record was 199 cases in 2001.
The latest update from the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) on Oct. 1 puts the year-to-date WPV1 case count in Pakistan to 174 after eight new cases were reported in the past week.
Of these, 3 are from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) (1 from North Waziristan Agency and 2 from Khyber Agency); 2 are from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (1 from Tank and 1 from Torghar district, which had been uninfected so far in 2014); 2 from Balochistan province (1 in Killa Abdulah and 1 in Quetta district); and 1 case in Sindh province in the previously uninfected Liaqat town of Karachi city.
The GPEI notes that Pakistan has accounted for 83% of cases reported globally. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Northwest Pakistan alone constitute the most heavily infected area of the world, with 73% of cases worldwide occurring within these provinces.
Pakistani health officials say militants attacks on polio workers and accusations of health workers trying to sterilize boys have affected polio vaccination campaigns. About 60 polio workers or police escorting polio teams have been killed in Pakistan since 2012, Safdar said.
In addition to Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan are the last remaining polio endemic countries in the world. Most cases this year reported in Afghanistan have been linked to cross-border transmission with Pakistan. Afghanistan has seen 10 cases in 2014 to date.
In West Central Africa, Nigeria, who saw 53 WPV1 cases in 2013, has seen only 6 this year so far. There has been 209 WPV1 cases reported from endemic and non-endemic countries to date.
The GPEI warns that the risk of international spread of polio from Pakistan remains high. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page