Polio, a dreaded paralyzing disease stamped out in the industrialized world, is spreading in Nigeria despite efforts to stamp it out. And health officials say in some cases, it’s caused by the vaccine used to fight it.
In July, the World Health Organization issued a warning that this vaccine-spread virus might extend beyond Africa. So far, 124 Nigerian children have been paralyzed this year — about twice those afflicted in 2008.
The polio problem is just the latest challenge to global health authorities trying to convince wary citizens that vaccines can save them from dreaded disease. For years, myths have abounded about vaccines — that they were the Western world’s plan to sterilize Africans or give them AIDS. The sad polio reality fuels misguided fears and underscores the challenges authorities face using a flawed vaccine.