Vaccines

4 new polio cases detected in Pakistan, official says

Polio vaccinators sit with boxes of the vaccine in a bus as they leave to administer it to children in different parts of Karachi October 21, 2014. Taliban militants have long been the scourge of Pakistan's polio vaccination campaign, attacking aid workers and the police who protect them as they distribute doses to children. But experts say there is another reason for the sharp spike in cases of the crippling disease in Pakistan this year - government mismanagement.

Polio vaccinators sit with boxes of the vaccine in a bus as they leave to administer it to children in different parts of Karachi October 21, 2014. Taliban militants have long been the scourge of Pakistan's polio vaccination campaign, attacking aid workers and the police who protect them as they distribute doses to children. But experts say there is another reason for the sharp spike in cases of the crippling disease in Pakistan this year - government mismanagement.  (REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro)

A health official in Pakistan says four new polio cases have been detected in the country, bringing the number of children affected by the crippling disease this year to 276.

Rana Mohammad Safdar, a senior official at the National Institute of Health in Islamabad, said Saturday the new cases were registered this week. He said most of the cases came from the northwest, where local militants often target polio teams.

Safdar said authorities will launch a new three-day vaccination campaign Monday to reach 35 million children across the country.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic.

Militants oppose the campaign, alleging that western governments would use it to spy on insurgents after the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.