Outbreak of Polio Spreading in Syria

In Syria, twenty-two people or more, mostly babies and toddlers, are said to have contracted polio, announced the World Health Organization.

If that were confirmed, the outbreaks would be the first for the disease in Syria in over 14 years. The Health Ministry in Syria started a drive for immunization late this week.

Before the civil war started in Syria back in 2011, nearly 95% of the nation’s children had been vaccinated against the crippling disease.

Now it is estimated by Unicef that 500,000 children have not received a vaccination. The WHO announced the suspected outbreak of the disease is in Deir Ezzor a province in the east.

A spokesperson for the WHO said that a cluster of acute flaccid paralysis in that general area was currently being investigated. The spokesperson said the cases are being treated as if it was an outbreak and everyone is in response mode.

Two of the 22 cases were already confirmed through lab tests, while it is expected by the WHO that the final laboratory confirmation for the remaining 20 cases will be next week.

Over 100,000 children, all aged under five are now at risk of contracting polio in just the province of Deir Ezzor, which has seen fierce fire fights between opposition fighters and government forces.

Deir Ezzor the city remains controlled partially by the loyal forces of President Bashar al-Assad, while out in the countryside the opposition controls the land.

The UN and WHO are working together with the health ministry in Syria on a mass program for immunization.

However, it is though it will be a very difficult undertaking, due to the widespread insecurity gripping Syria. The estimate is that more than half of the medical professionals in Syria have already left the nation.

Over four million people in Syria have already been displaced inside the country. Other sicknesses such as hepatitis A, typhoid and measles have all increased since the war began.

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