Via STAT, Helen Branswell writes: Polio outbreak expands in Syria, as officials plan immunization campaign. Excerpt:
The World Health Organization said Tuesday that an outbreak of vaccine-related polio cases in Syria has expanded, with 17 children so far paralyzed by the vaccine viruses.
Two weeks ago, there were only two cases.
Test results are pending for another 27 individuals, although some of them may turn out not to be polio cases.
One of the newly confirmed cases is in Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State — a factor that could add layers of complexity to an already difficult situation. The other 16 are in Mayadeen district in the Deir-Ez-Zor governorate of eastern Syria.
“The Raqqa case is further being investigated, including to more clearly assess whether there is local circulation in Raqqa as well, or [if this is] an isolated importation from Mayadeen,” Michel Zaffran, director of polio for the WHO, said in an email. “We are also looking at the options for extending the response to Raqqa which … will be more complicated given the current situation.”
Planning is underway to conduct two special rounds of immunization. The first round is expected to begin no later than July 8 and will use a special oral vaccine that targets type 2 polio. The goal is to vaccinate 328,000 children under the age of 5.
A second round, which will use injectable polio vaccine — the type used in the United States — will aim to vaccinate 114,500 children between the ages of 2 months and 24 months.