A polio outbreak has been confirmed among young children in northeast Syria, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.
“Out of those 22 being investigated, 10 are now confirmed to be polio type one,” WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer said at a news briefing in Geneva. Doctors are waiting on the remaining 12 suspected cases in Deir al-Zor, he said.
The polio virus, a highly contagious disease, usually infects children living in unsanitary conditions and is caught through the consumption of food or liquid contaminated with feces. The disease can spread widely before symptoms appear and usually results in death or paralysis, according to the Associated Press.
“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 launched a polio vaccination campaign but it faces difficulty in reaching many parts of the war-torn country.
Polio was last reported in Syria in 1999.
(With Reuters and the Associated Press)