On 17 October 2013, WHO received reports of a cluster of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases in the Syrian Arab Republic. This cluster was detected in Deir Al Zour province and is currently being investigated. Initial results from the national polio laboratory in Damascus indicate that two of the cases could be positive for polio – final results are awaited from the regional reference laboratory of the Eastern Mediterranean Region of WHO. Wild poliovirus was last reported in Syria in 1999.
The Ministry of Health is treating this event as suspected poliomyelitis pending final laboratory confirmation, and an urgent response is currently being planned across the country.
Advice for Travellers
It is recommended that travellers have a poliomyelitis booster (or course) if not already protected and take precautions with food, water and personal hygiene.