WHO confirms polio outbreak in Syria

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Child receives polio vaccine

At least 10 cases of polio have been confirmed in north-east Syria, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

A further 12 cases of paralysis are under investigations to confirm if they were as a result of the polio virus.

WHO says the outbreak is confined to Deir Al Zour in the north east of the country and those affected were children under 2 years of old .

This is the first time that a polio outbreak has been confirmed in Syria in nearly 15 years.

WHO says health authorities in Syria in collaboration with humanitarian agencies were undertaking a major vaccination campaign to try and contain the disease from spreading further.

Oliver Rosenbauer is the spokesperson for the WHO Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

“A lot is still unknown and investigations are still going on. They all appear to be very young, so less than 2 years and they all appear to be under or un-immunized some information we have is that some had received one dose of the Wild Polio Vaccine and others had not. They all came down with paralysis and then the investigation was launched what caused it because it looked clinically very much like polio because suddenly 22 of them showed up in the same geographic area around the same time. The disease progression was very similar. They all seemed to start with fever and progressed very rapidly which made it a hot cluster at that time.”

Polio is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water.

The disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. Polio can only be prevented by immunization.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 1.39″

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November 2017
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