Polio eradication emergency declared after 17 cases are detected in Syria

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UNICEF has joined the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to launch a huge immunization campaign against polio in Syria. Photo: UNICEF

A polio eradication emergency has been declared in all countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) Eastern Mediterranean Region after 17 cases of polio were confirmed in Syria.

The cases are due to the wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1), a highly infectious and crippling viral disease, the agency notes.

15 cases had already been reported in the Deir Al Nour province, and now 2 additional cases have been confirmed, one each in rural Damascus and Aleppo.

WHO and UNICEF say they are ready to work with relief agencies to ensure all Syrian children are vaccinated no matter where they live.

The response to the outbreak is expected to continue for at least six to eight months, depending on the area and the evolution of the disease.

The risk that the wild poliovirus could spread across the region is considered to be high, given the frequent population movements of Syrians across the region and immunity gaps in key areas.

WHO says a surveillance alert has been issued for the region to search for additional potential cases in addition to carrying out large-scale immunization campaigns with oral polio vaccine.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’15″

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