WASHINGTON, March 30 (UPI) -- As the world gets ready to observe the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the polio vaccine, experts think total eradication of the disease is near.
Health officials say one strain of the virus that causes the paralyzing disease already has been wiped out and they're closing in on the other two, the USA Today reported Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, which are involved in the global eradication program, say in 1988 when their effort began, there were 350,000 polio cases in 125 countries.
In 2004, there were 1,263 cases in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan and Egypt. A recent CDC immunization meeting noted that type 2 polio virus has not been found since 1999.
In Egypt, where only type 1 polio exists, a new vaccine will be given starting in May.
In India, where types 3 and 1 are found, the single-strain vaccine will be given along with the standard three-strain polio vaccine.
The single-strain vaccine was developed with grants of $10 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Health officials hope the disease will be completely eradicated by the end of 2006.