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Polio virus linked to Pakistan found in Egypt

Islamabad: Pakistani health officials have called for infants leaving the country to be issued polio vaccinations at airports after virus samples linked to a southern Pakistani city were discovered in Egypt.

A joint statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF stated that two sewage samples from Cairo were analysed and found to resemble a recently discovered strain in the city of Sukkur, reports The Dawn.

Though Egypt has been polio-free since 2004, authorities there have ordered the immediate vaccination of all children under five years of age in the areas where the samples were found.

Polio cases in Pakistan have risen sharply in recent years, hitting 198 in 2011, the highest figure for more than a decade and the most of any country in the world, according to the WHO.

UNICEF`s acting chief of polio unit, Michael Coleman said the incident reinforces the urgent need of all caregivers across Pakistan to vaccinate children under five years of age against polio through the nearest health facility or through campaign vaccination teams.

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.

UN agencies suspended work on a nationwide campaign to inoculate children against the highly infectious disease after nine health workers were murdered in a string of attacks in the northwest and Karachi in December last year.