October 30, 2013

WHO confirms polio outbreak in Syria

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday that 10 cases of infection with wild poliovirus type 1 had been confirmed in Syria.

Twenty-two children with acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) in the country’s Deir al-Zour province were reported October 17 and wild poliovirus has been isolated in samples taken from 10 cases. Results on the other 12 were expected within days, Xinhua reported.


According to the WHO, most of the cases are of kids below two years of age and were un-immunised or under-immunised. Estimated immunisation rates in Syria declined from 91 percent in 2010 to 68 percent in 2012.

It said that on October 24, a large-scale supplementary immunisation activity (SIA) was launched in Syria to vaccinate 1.6 million children against polio, measles, mumps and rubella, in both government-controlled and contested areas.

Larger-scale outbreak response across Syria and neighbouring countries is anticipated to begin in early November, to last for at least six to eight months depending on the area and based on evolving epidemiology, it said.

The WHO warned that the risk of further international spread of wild poliovirus type 1 across the region is considered to be high due to frequent population movements across the region and subnational immunity gaps in key areas.

A surveillance alert has been issued for the region to actively search for additional potential cases. All travellers to and from polio-infected areas are recommended to be fully vaccinated against polio.

What is polio?

Polio or poliomyelitis is a communicable viral disease which affects the nerves and can lead to partial or permanent paralysis. It is transmitted through stool or saliva.

The global effort to eradicate polio has been very successful and from 350,000 cases in 1988 only 40 cases were reported worldwide in 2012. There is no cure for the diseases though vaccination can prevent the disease for life.

Many countries, e.g. India, have done remarkably well in eradicating polio and from 2011 no new cases were reported in India.

Source: http://health.india.com/news/who-confirms-polio-outbreak-in-syria/

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