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Div. of Media Relations
1600 Clifton Road
MS D-14
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 639-3286
Fax (404) 639-7394

Synopsis for March 2, 2001

MMWR articles are embargoed until 4 p.m. E.S.T. Thursdays.

  1. Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication — Afghanistan, 1999–2000
  2. Influenza B Virus Outbreak on a Cruise Ship — Northern Europe, 2000
  3. Blood and Hair Mercury Levels in Young Children and Women of Childbearing Age — United States, 1999


Progress Toward Poliomyelitis Eradication — Afghanistan, 1999–2000

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) resolved in 1988 to eradicate poliomyelitis globally, there has been substantial progress toward achieving this goal.


Victor Caceres, M.D., M.P.H.

CDC, National Immunization Program
(404) 639–8252

Afghanistan, a WHO member country, initiated polio eradication activities in 1994. Since that time, there have significant achievements in the implementation of polio eradication activities during 1999-2000. National Immunization Days (NIDs) have been highly successful, poliovirus transmission has declined, and a key quality of surveillance indicator (the rate of reporting of non-polio cases of acute flaccid paralysis [AFP]) reached the target level in 2000. The rate of adequate stool specimen from AFP cases is still well below target levels and needs to improve to better identify poliovirus reservoirs. Though poliomyelitis remains endemic in Afghanistan, progress-to-date demonstrates that key polio eradication strategies can be implemented successfully in countries experiencing internal strife.


Influenza B Virus Outbreak on a Cruise Ship — Northern Europe, 2000

An influenza B outbreak occurred during the summer on a cruise ship in Northern European waters.


Division of Media Relations

CDC, Office of Communication
(404) 639–3286

The outbreak was controlled by the ship's medical staff because they had early suspicion of an outbreak and used a respiratory illness control protocol. Key elements of the protocol included: 1) initiating surveillance to identify cases of illness; 2) using targeted rapid influenza diagnostic testing and viral cultures to confirm cases of influenza infection; 3) isolating ill crew members; 4) using antiviral agents for treatment and, if indicated, for prophylaxis; and 5) monitoring intervention results. This outbreak, along with other reported summertime influenza A outbreaks in 1998 and 1999 on cruise ships in the Alaska region, suggest that traveling in large groups may pose a risk for exposure to influenza viruses in regions of the world where influenza is not in seasonal circulation. Travelers at high risk for flu-related complications may need a flu shot if they were not vaccinated during the preceding fall or winter.


Blood and Hair Mercury Levels in Young Children and Women of Childbearing Age — United States, 1999

Mercury levels in blood and hair from U.S. women and children show exposure to mercury generally falls below hazardous levels.


Sandy Smith

CDC, National Center for Health Statistics
(301) 458–4800

The findings suggest that mercury levels in young children and women of child bearing age generally are below those considered hazardous. These preliminary estimates suggest that approximately 10 percent of women have mercury levels within one-tenth of potentially hazardous levels indicating a narrow margin of safety for some women and supporting efforts to reduce methylmercury exposure. While fish is a benefical food, primary exposure to methylmercury is through the consumption of fish. Pregnant women or women of childbearing age who may become pregnant, should not eat fish known to have high levels of mercury (shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tile fish, and specific freshwater fish indicated in State fishing advisories). These data also support a strategy for reducing mercury exposure by limiting mercury releases into the environment.



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This page last reviewed Friday, March 2, 2001

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