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The World Health Organization (WHO) has sent group of experts to investigate a polio outbreak in Tajikistan, where 10 children have reportedly died of the illness.

WHO spokeswoman Sona Bari told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that 128 cases of acute flaccid paralysis -- or weakness and loss of muscle control -- have been reported so far.

The reports amount to "a high number for a small country like Tajikistan," Bari said. "And samples of all those cases have not been tested yet. You have to test them in a lab to see whether they are actually polio. As far as I know, in the last numbers polio was detected in seven of the children," while other results are still pending, she said.

All the reported cases are in the southwest of the country, in an area bordering Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

Tajikistan's last case of clinically confirmed polio occurred in 1997, and the WHO declared the country polio-free in 2002.