Polio Postponed; January 2005; Scientific American Magazine; by Christine Soares; 2 Page(s)
The celebration started January 15, 2004, when health ministers of the last six countries where the poliovirus still circulate--Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria and Niger--gathered in Geneva to commence a very public countdown. After 15 years and some $3 billion, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was going to halt all transmission of the "wild" virus by the end of the year and thereafter consign polio to the same fate as smallpox, declared officially banished in 1980.
Unfortunately, polio has proved to be a much trickier disease, and the world is a different place than it was in the 1970s. Rather than having been eliminated, polio is now present in 10 countries. The polio program has succeeded in many difficult areas, says University of Pittsburgh professor D. A. Henderson, who led the smallpox eradication program and guided polio eradication in the Americas. "But at this time they're running into some very heavy weather," he warns.