It’s the kind of headline you’d expect to see from the 1930s or ’40s, when international news was becoming timely, and a vaccine for polio hadn’t yet been developed. But an unchecked outbreak of polio now, in the 21st Century? You want to use the word “unthinkable,” except there it is, happening.
Twenty-two children in Deir al-Zor province became paralyzed this month with acute flaccid paralysis, symptoms that can be caused by other diseases, and WHO’s laboratory in Tunis has now isolated the wild polio virus in samples taken from 10 victims.
“Out of those 22 being investigated, 10 are now confirmed to be polio type one,” WHO spokesman Oliver Rosenbauer told a news briefing in Geneva.
Most victims are under two years old and are believed never to have been vaccinated against the crippling disease or to have received even a single dose of the oral vaccine instead of three which ensure protection, he said.
The story goes on to say there was an earlier outbreak there in 1999 — who knew?