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UN Confirms Polio Outbreak In Syria, Regional Risk 'High'

Syrians displaced by fighting. Polio can strike at any age but mainly affects children under 5.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed 10 cases of polio in Syria -- the first outbreak of the disease in the country in 14 years.

The UN agency said on October 29 that another 12 cases showing symptoms of paralytic polio -- the most serious form of the disease -- are being investigated.

Most victims are under 2 years old.

The outbreak centers on the northeastern province of Deir al-Zor, but a WHO spokesman, Oliver Rosenbauer, said the "risk is high" of the disease spreading across the region.

Before Syria's civil war began in 2011, triggering a humanitarian crisis, most children were vaccinated against polio.

The highly contagious disease is often spread by consuming food or liquid contaminated with feces.

There is no known cure for polio, which remains endemic in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters