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Russia Confirms First Polio Cases In 15 Years

Authorities suspect the outbreak originated in neighboring Tajikistan.
MOSCOW -- The Russian Health and Social Affairs Ministry has confirmed seven cases of polio that it says likely originate from an outbreak in Tajikistan more than one month ago, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief public health official, said on June 21 that polio cases have been registered in Irkutsk, Chelyabinsk, the Sverdlovsk region, and Moscow.

They are the first cases of polio in Russia in 15 years.

The outbreak of viral polio in April in Tajikistan prompted Russian officials to ban the import of dried fruit and nuts from Tajikistan. Children under 6 were also prohibited from entering Russia from Tajikistan.

Polio epidemics were common in the West until the 1950s, and the disease has been eradicated in most parts of the world. Only about 1,000 cases of it are reported per year, almost exclusively in developing countries.