Polio might just be looking at a comeback tour, thanks to the Syrian civil war. There's a significant risk that the now-rare disease could spread from Syria to Europe, as refugees seek asylum there, a group of German scientists warned in The Lancet today. The danger is that many people may not know they're carrying the disease; only about 1 in 200 people infected develop symptoms. The vaccine commonly known in Europe exacerbates this, because it's good at preventing symptoms but only partially effective at preventing infection.
It could take almost a year of "silent transmission" before the outbreak is detected, "although hundreds of individuals would carry the infection," they warn. Simply vaccinating Syrian refugees is "insufficient," they argue, pressing for a broader approach that might include testing sewage near Syrian refugee settlements, Reuters reports. But the news isn't all disease and death in Syria; inspectors yesterday reported that they have thus far destroyed all but one of the 23 chemical weapons sites the Assad regime pointed them toward, the New York Times reports. (Read more polio stories.)