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Record High Polio Cases in Pakistan

FILE - A Pakistani health worker administers the polio vaccine to a child during a vaccination campaign in Bannu on June 25, 2014.

The number of polio cases recorded in Pakistan this year has hit a record high.

An official with the Pakistan National Institute of Health in Islamabad says 202 cases have been reported so far this year, surpassing the previous record of 199 in one year.

A health official told the French news agency AFP Friday that 15 cases of polio had been reported in the past two days.

About 60 polio vaccination workers have been killed by militants since 2012, mainly in the restive northwestern tribal areas that border Afghanistan and are home to Taliban and al-Qaida militants. The new cases have emerged in these areas.

Militants accuse the polio workers of being Western spies or part of a plot to sterilize Muslims.

The World Health Organization says polio is endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

The WHO says as long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio.

Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that mainly affects children under the age of five. It invades the nervous system and can cause total paralysis in hours.

There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life.