Wild polio virus outbreak in Syria does not affect Israel, says Health Ministry

The WHO says it and UNICEF organization are committing to vaccinating all Syrian children.

November 13, 2013 17:44
1 minute read.
Vaccination against polio

Vaccination against polio. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Israel is not concerned about harm to its residents following an outbreak of wild polio virus in sewage in Syria, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday. The World Health Organization said that it and the United Nations’ UNICEF organization are “committed to working with all organizations and agencies providing humanitarian assistance to Syrians affected by the conflict; this includes vaccinating all Syrian children no matter where they are, whether in government or contested areas or outside Syria.”

It continued that “larger-scale outbreak response across the Syrian Arab Republic and neighboring countries will continue, to last for at least six to eight months depending on the area and based on evolving epidemiology."

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Last January, the first signs of wild polio virus were discovered in routine tests at sewage plants in the south of Israel, first in Beduin villages, apparently as a result of a visitor from Egypt. As the virus spread -- but without any people suffering from the paralytic disease -- all children up to the age of 10, totaling nearly a million youngsters, have been given attenuated-virus oral polio vaccine. The virus has nearly been stopped in its tracks, and the ministry decided to restore OPV to the regular vaccination schedule of children in addition to the longtime, killed-virus injected vaccine.

Commenting on the WHO announcement about Syria, the Health Ministry in Jerusalem said no addition action is needed here. 

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