Polio outbreaks 'an international health emergency'

The recent spread of polio across Middle Eastern and African countries is an international public health emergency that threatens to infect other countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned.

A child receives polio vaccination during an anti-polio campaign on the outskirts of Jalalabad. Credit: Reuters

The WHO said an co-ordinated international response was needed to stem the crippling disease, that tends to strike children under five and is usually spread via infected water.

Health experts are particularly concerned the virus continues to pop up in countries previously free of the disease, such as Syria, Somalia and Iraq, where civil war and unrest threatens efforts to contain the virus.