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Polio Virus May Be Fully Eradicated Within One Year

It would be the second virus in history to be wiped out.

<p>Photo: Khaled Abdullah // Reuters</p>

The World Health Organization is confident that the end of the polio virus is in sight, according to The Guardian.

"We absolutely need to keep the pressure up, but we think we could reach the point where we have truly interrupted the transmission at the end of the year or the end of the low season [winter] next year," said Michel Zaffran, the WHO's director of polio eradication.

Data provided by the WHO says that there have only been nine reported cases of wild polio (as opposed to the vaccine-derived version) so far this year. That's down from 2015, when 22 cases were reported over the same time period. For 2016, two cases have been documented in Afghanistan and seven in Pakistan.

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If successful, polio will be the second human-hosted virus to ever be fully eradicated. In 1980, a similar campaign fully wiped out smallpox.

Although the WHO has been fighting to eradicate polio since 1988, the group has seen some challenges in recent years. In Pakistan, community vaccination sites have often been targeted by attacks from the Taliban. The terrorist group has also been known to spread misinformation about the vaccine to civilians. In Afghanistan, Zaffran said the WHO is targeting 47 districts for expanded vaccination programs -- 32 of which are controlled by anti-government forces.

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Top photo: A girl receives polio vaccination drops during a house-to-house vaccination campaign in Yemen's capital Sana'a April 10, 2016.