Originally created 05/29/99

CDC: Substantial progress made in eradicating polio



ATLANTA -- Substantial progress has been made in eradicating polio worldwide, but federal health officials said Thursday that much more work is needed in India and parts of Africa.

The World Health Organization's goal is to eradicate the crippling virus by 2000. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that will require a "major acceleration" of polio-fighting efforts in some places.

Polio cases reported in southeast Asia increased last year to 4,673, up from 2,827 in 1997. The CDC said the rise is likely due to improved reporting and surveillance of the virus.

In Africa, there were 992 cases reported last year, down from 1,087 a year earlier.

All 26 cases in the WHO's European region -- which includes former Soviet Asian republics and part of the Middle East -- were confined to Turkey.

The disease has been wiped out in the Western Hemisphere since 1991. In WHO's western Pacific region, which stretches from French Polynesia to China, the virus has not been detected since March 1997.