MOSCOW, June 13 (Reuters) – Russia has confirmed its first death from polio in more than a decade, the country’s top public health official said on Sunday, Interfax news agency reported.
A citizen of the former-Soviet Central Asian country of Uzbekistan died of polio in the Urals Mountains city of Yekaterinburg in early June, Gennady Onishchenko was quoted as saying. “Tests have confirmed this,” he said.
Onishchenko’s spokeswoman was unavailable to comment on the report on Sunday.
Polio was practically eradicated as a public health problem in industrialised countries in the 1960s, but remains endemic in seven countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Russia last month confirmed its first case in 13 years in an infant visiting from Tajikistan, where at least 12 people have died from a polio outbreak this year.
State news agency RIA Novosti last week reported that an Uzbek man died of polio in Yekaterinburg on June 4, but Onishchenko’s office refused to comment on that report until additional tests in Moscow confirmed the diagnosis.
Onishchenko said four cases of polio had been confirmed in citizens from Central Asia and two other possible cases were being investigated, Interfax reported.
Polio, which spreads in areas with poor sanitation, attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection. Children under the age of three are most vulnerable. (Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Alison Williams)