At least 22 people are suspected of contracting polio in Syria, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday, coinciding with World Polio Day.
Initial tests on two people sickened with acute flaccid paralysis in eastern Deir al-Zour came back positive, and final laboratory results due next week are “very, very likely” to confirm the virus, said Oliver Rosenbauer, WHO spokesman told Reuters. “Everybody is treating this as an outbreak (of polio) and is in outbreak response mode.”
The cases mark the first time the disease has been reported in the country in 14 years. Polio has no cure—only prevention through immunization has been proven effective for controlling its spread.
Global health officials are concerned that Syria’s civil war and continual shift of both refugees and internally displayed persons are providing ample room for disease to spread.