Syria’s Polio Outbreak May Threaten Europe, Scientists Warn

“In [an article] published Thursday in the medical journal The Lancet, two German public health experts warn that Syria’s [polio] outbreak may threaten Europe,” National Journal reports (Koren, 11/7). “Dr. Martin Eichner of the University of Tubinge in Germany and Dr. Stefan Brockmann of the Reutlingen Regional Public Health Office wrote Thursday in [the journal] hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing Syria and seeking refuge in neighboring countries and Europe,” United Press International notes (11/7). “Vaccinating only Syrian refugees against polio may not be enough to prevent the crippling viral disease from re-infecting Europe where it has not been seen for decades,” they warned, according to Reuters, which adds, “[T]hey said the risk to Europe from a re-emergence of polio in Syria was partly due to the type of vaccine generally used in regions that have not had the disease for many years” (Kelland, 11/7). “They say because only one in 200 people infected develops paralysis it could take a year of ‘silent transmission’ before an outbreak is detected,” BBC News writes, adding, “In that time hundreds of individuals could be carrying the infection” (Walsh, 11/7).

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