WHO Confirms Polio Outbreak in Syria

Finds 10 cases in first outbreak in 14 years
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2013 7:22 AM CDT
WHO Confirms Polio Outbreak in Syria
Syrian children look between as they bars wait for a medical check up in a corridor of newly opened refugee camp, in an old school in Sofia, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.   (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)

WHO has confirmed it: Syria is experiencing its first polio outbreak in 14 years. The UN body has confirmed 10 cases in the country so far, and another 12 potential cases are being investigated, the BBC reports. Most victims are under two years old and likely were never vaccinated, a WHO spokesperson tells Reuters. Before the civil war started in 2011, some 95% of children were vaccinated; now, however, 500,000 are estimated to be un-vaccinated.

More than 100,000 children under age five are at risk in Deir Ezzor, the eastern province where the outbreak is centered. Polio is spread by ingesting contaminated food or liquid. Since millions of Syrians have been displaced by the war and are living in dirty, crowded conditions, measles, typhoid, and hepatitis A are also on the rise. An immunization drive has begun to combat the spread of polio, which WHO says is a big risk. (More Syria stories.)

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