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A huge tornado tears through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, killing dozens. Slideshow
Indian priests administer polio drops as blessings
PATNA, India |
PATNA, India (Reuters) - Hindu priests are blessing children with polio drops instead of traditional holy water, sweets or fruits to help eradicate the crippling disease in an eastern Indian state, an official said on Wednesday.
Impoverished Bihar is one of several states where polio cases have been reported, and last year more than 650 cases were reported across the country.
"We are keen to wipe out polio and we thought involving temple priests would be a good idea as people trust and listen to them," said Gopal Krishna, a senior Bihar health official.
Tens of millions of people in Hindu-majority India visit temples and accept holy water, fruits or sweets from priests after prayers.
Health officials in Bihar have trained hundreds of priests to give polio drops to immunize children, Krishna said.
The state had stepped up the immunization drive after 11 polio cases were reported in children this year, he said.
Polio can cause permanent paralysis in children and is found in India, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"I was very surprised when the priest put polio drops into the mouths of several children, including my son, as god's blessings," said Sunita Devi, a resident of Patna, the state capital. "But we trust the priest as he can do us no harm."
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