Officials say India close to wiping out polio

October 24, 2011 - 1:55 AM

NEW DELHI (AP) — Health officials say there has not been a case of polio in India for nine months, the longest the country has ever been polio free.

India's health ministry says the country has never been closer to wiping out the debilitating disease since eradication efforts were launched here nearly two decades ago.

India remains one of only four countries in the world where polio is still endemic.

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said Monday the last new case was reported in January in West Bengal state and no cases were reported in the traditional polio reservoirs of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

He said any fresh case of the virus would be declared a public health emergency.