GENEVA — United Nations officials confirmed an outbreak of polio among children in Syria on Tuesday, lending urgency to plans for vaccination campaigns there and in nearby countries to try to halt the spread of the disease.
Tests confirmed polio in 10 out of 22 children in Deir al-Zour Province in northeastern Syria who became ill this month, Oliver Rosenbauer, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, said. Results of tests on the other 12 children are expected soon, he added.
“With population movements, it can travel to other areas, so the risk is high of spread across the region,” Mr. Rosenbauer said.
United Nations officials said last week that they were launching a campaign to immunize 2.4 million children in Syria against polio and other diseases. With thousands of refugees fleeing daily from Syria’s civil war to neighboring countries, the officials are also intensifying immunization efforts in six countries: Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, which have taken in more than two million Syrian refugees, as well as Egypt and Israel.
Most of the affected children in Syria are younger than 2, Mr. Rosenbauer said, underscoring the impact of 31 months of conflict on Syria’s health infrastructure. The United Nations says half a million Syrian children have not been inoculated against polio in a country where, before the conflict, 95 percent of the country’s population was immunized.
…A recent report published in the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (IJME) explains that, clinically, NPAFP is indistinguishable from polio paralysis. But according to the Office of Medical & Scientific Justice (OMSJ), NPAFP is twice as deadly as polio paralysis, and yet was not even an issue in India prior to the rollout of the massive polio vaccine campaigns.In 2011, for instance, the year in which India was declared to be polio-free, there were 47,500 known cases of NPAFP, which is a shockingly high figure under the circumstances. And based on data collected from India’s National Polio Surveillance Project, cases of NPAFP across India rose dramatically in direct proportion to the number of polio vaccines administered, which suggests that the vaccines were responsible for spurring the rapid spread of this deadly condition.Similarly, cases of vaccine-associated polio paralysis (VAPP), a condition in which paralytic symptoms similar or identical to those caused by wild-type polio manifest themselves following the administration of polio vaccines, are also on the rise. Not only are the paralysis symptoms associated with NPAFP and VAPP typically far worse than those brought about by wild-type polio, but they can also accompany other negative side effects including neurological damage.Far from being a success, in other words, India’s polio vaccine campaign appears to have induced a new epidemic of a much worse type of polio-related paralysis that is even more deadly than the first one. And based on the figures, overall rates of NPAFP in particular are now 12 times higher in India following the polio vaccine campaigns, with some areas of the country reporting rates as elevated as 35 times higher.