[QODLink]
Middle East

Polio outbreak confirmed in Syria

World Health Organisation says 10 out of 22 children confirmed to have polio type one of the communicable disease.

Last Modified: 29 Oct 2013 13:15
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
More than four million Syrians have been internally displaced by the conflict since March 2011

The UN health agency has confirmed an outbreak of polio in war-torn Syria, which had been free of the crippling disease since 1999, and said it feared it would spread.

Oliver Rosenbauer, spokesman for the World Health Organisation's anti-polio division, told reporters on Tuesday that laboratory tests had confirmed the presence of the disease in 10 out of 22 suspected cases reported almost two weeks ago.

"Out of those 22 being investigated, 10 are now confirmed to be polio type one," Rosenbauer said in Geneva.

Laboratory results were still being awaited on the remaining 12 suspected cases in Deir al-Zor, he said.

"Of course this is a communicable disease. With population movements it can travel to other areas. So the risk is high for its] spread across the region," Rosenbauer said.

All 22 children were stricken with acute flaccid paralysis, which is the symptom of a number of different diseases, including polio.

"The other 12 are still being investigated," he said, adding that test results were expected in coming days.

Of course disease surveillance is now ongoing across Syria and neighbouring countries as well, to look for other acute flaccid paralysis cases

Oliver Rosenbauer, World Health Organisation spokesperson

The cases were clustered in the northeastern Deir Al Zour province, and all affected children under the age of two.

"There are no additional 'hot' cases that we know of. Of course disease surveillance is now ongoing across Syria and neighbouring countries as well, to look for other acute flaccid paralysis cases," said Rosenbauer.

The next step is to analyse the genetic code of the virus to try to track its source.

Last week, as they waited for confirmation of the cases, aid agencies and Syrian health authorities stepped up efforts to vaccinate 2.4 million children against polio, as well as measles, mumps and rubella.

The UN says that 500,000 children in Syria have not been vaccinated against polio in the past two years due to insecurity.

Rosenbauer said that all the children who have caught the virus in Deir Al Zour appeared to have never been vaccinated against polio, or had not received a full course of vaccine.

376

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Assam officials upset that WWII-era Stillwell Road won't be used in transnational highway linking four Asian nations.
Informal health centres are treating thousands of Syrian refugees in Turkey, easing the pressure on local hospitals.
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
join our mailing list