GENEVA (AP) -- The number of worldwide polio cases last year rose dramatically after a vaccine boycott in Nigeria spawned a resurgence of the disease across Africa, the World Health Organization said Wednesday. The number of cases worldwide in 2004 reached 1,185, compared with 784 in 2003, the United Nations health agency said.
Most of the cases were in Africa -- largely in Nigeria, the continent's most populous nation. Hardline Islamic clerics in Nigeria's northern Kano state led the immunization boycott, claiming the polio vaccine was part of a U.S.-led plot to render Nigeria's Muslims infertile or infect them with AIDS. The boycott triggered an outbreak across the continent, infecting children in formerly polio-free countries and hurting WHO-led attempts to eradicate the crippling disease by Dec. 31, 2005.
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