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Poliomyelitis in Syria (Suspected) (Update)

25 Oct 2013

Health officials in Syria have identified further cases of acute flaccid paralysis that are suspected to be wild polio virus infections. This brings the total number of suspected polio cases to 22. Laboratory confirmation of the first two suspected cases is expected next week and is thought 'very, very likely' to be positive for wild polio virus.

Most of the suspected cases in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor (Dayr az Zawr) are children under the age of 2 years and are believed never to have been vaccinated or to have received only a single dose of oral polio vaccine.

More than 100 000 children under age 5 years are deemed at risk of polio in Deir al-Zor province. Most of the countryside is in opposition hands but the city of Deir al-Zor itself is still partially controlled by government forces.

With around 4000 Syrian refugees leaving the country daily, immunization campaigns are also planned in neighbouring countries, where there may be gaps in coverage.

Advice for Travellers

It is recommended that travellers have a poliomyelitis booster (or course) if not already protected and take precautions with food, water and personal hygiene.