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Syria polio cases ‘threaten Europe’

AFP-JIJI

An outbreak of polio in Syria poses a threat to Europe, where the crippling and potentially fatal disease was declared eradicated in 2002, doctors warned on Friday.

Europe is exposed because some countries have low rates of inoculation, which lowers “herd immunity,” or protection through community-wide vaccination, a pair of German epidemiologists warned in The Lancet. In addition, most countries use a type called inactivated polio vaccine, which is less effective against the virus than an oral vaccine that is now largely discontinued because it causes rare cases of paralysis, they warned.

At least 10 cases of polio have been confirmed by the World Health Organization in Syria, where vaccination has been disrupted by the war. The virus has also been found in Israel in people who did not develop the disease, prompting the country to launch an emergency inoculation campaign.