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Polio Outbreak in Syria Risks Spreading

Posted by feww on October 29, 2013

10 Cases of polio confirmed in northeast Syria

The crippling disease has broken out among young children in northeast Syria’s Deir al-Zor province, the first outbreak in the country in 14 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed on Tuesday.

Twenty-two children in Deir al-Zor province, which borders Iraq, became paralyzed last week, and WHO has confirmed that 10 victims tested positive for the wild polio virus.Results on the remaining 12 cases are expected soon.

Most of the victims were under two years old and may not have been vaccinated against polio, WHO said.

It’s believed that foreign mercenaries fighting in Syria have imported the virus into the country. Polio is endemic in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer has said that the source of the virus must be one of the three endemic areas.

The highly contagious virus now threatens to spread in Syria and beyond, as more than 4,000 refugees leave Syria every day.

“Of course this is a communicable disease. With population movements it can travel to other areas. So the risk is high of (its) spread across the region,” Rosenbauer told Reuters.

At least 100,000 Children under the age of five are at risk of polio in Deir al-Zour province, and 500,000 children have not been immunized.

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