As of June 20, 17 children had reportedly been paralyzed as a result of a vaccine-derived polio outbreak in Mayadin and Raqqa. Of the 17 cases, 14 have been confirmed according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This is the first outbreak of polio in Syria since 2014.
The WHO stated that it will respond to the outbreak by vaccinating around 90,000 children under five years old and 320,000 other adults in Deir al-Zour province.
Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the central nervous system and can result in paralysis. The virus is transmitted mainly through the fecal-oral route and primarily affects children under the age of five. Around 0.5 percent of all infections result in permanent paralysis, with 5-10 percent of all paralysis cases resulting in death.
While a global campaign to end polio was largely successful, the disease continues to circulate in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Individuals in Syria are advised to verify their vaccination status and monitor the situation.
On a more general note, due to extremely poor security conditions, Western governments generally advise against all travel to Syria, with some countries banning all travel to the country. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to any travel to the country.