UN confirms 10 polio cases in northeast Syria

by Associated Press

The U.N.'s health agency said Tuesday it has confirmed 10 polio cases in northeast Syria, the first confirmed outbreak of the diseases in the country in 14 years, with a risk of spreading across the region.

Officials are awaiting lab results on another 12 cases showing polio symptoms, said World Health Organization spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer.

Rosenbauer said the confirmed cases are among babies and toddlers, all under 2, who were "under-immunized."

The , a highly contagious disease, usually infects in unsanitary conditions through the consumption of food or liquid contaminated with feces. It attacks the nerves and can kill or paralyze, and can spread widely and unnoticed before it starts crippling children.

"This is a communicable disease—with population movements it can travel to other areas," said Rosenbauer. "So the risk is high of spread across the region."

Syria had launched a vaccination campaign around the country days after the Geneva-based WHO said it had received reports of children showing symptoms of in Syria's Deir el-Zour province, but the campaign faces difficulty with lack of access in many parts of the war-torn country.

Nearly all Syrian children were vaccinated against the disease before the civil war began more than 2 ½ years ago. Polio was last reported in Syria in 1999.

The Syrian conflict, which began as a largely peaceful uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011, has triggered a humanitarian crisis on a massive scale, killing more than 100,000 people, driving nearly 7 million more from their homes and devastating cities and towns.

U.N. officials have warned of the spread of disease in Syria because of lack of access to basic hygiene and vaccinations.

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Khartoum allows polio vaccine in troubled states

Oct 24, 2013

The Sudanese government has agreed to let United Nations workers vaccinate tens of thousands of children against polio in the violence-wracked South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, the world body said Thursday.

Pakistan warns of polio outbreak after fresh cases

Aug 28, 2013

Health officials in Pakistan on Wednesday warned of a serious polio outbreak after the disease was detected in 16 children in a tribal district where militant groups have banned vaccination.

Measles epidemic sweeps northern Syria

Jun 18, 2013

An epidemic of measles is sweeping through parts of northern Syria, with at least 7,000 people affected because the ongoing civil war has disrupted vaccination programmes, Doctors Without Borders said on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

18 hours ago

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

19 hours ago

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

22 hours ago

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

23 hours ago

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments