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U.N. Confirms Polio Outbreak in Syria

United Nations officials confirmed an outbreak of polio among children in Syria on Tuesday, lending urgency to plans for vaccination campaigns there and in nearby countries to try to halt the spread of the disease.

Tests confirmed polio in 10 out of 22 children in Deir al-Zour Province in northeastern Syria who became ill this month, Oliver Rosenbauer, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, said. Results of tests on the other 12 children are expected soon, he added.

The polio outbreak in Syria was “a setback” like any upsurge in the disease, but health officials were seeing significant progress in curbing the disease in endemic countries, Mr. Rosenbauer said. In Pakistan and Nigeria, the disease is geographically more restricted, and in southern Afghanistan, the area of that country where the disease is endemic, no new cases had been reported this year. “That’s never happened before,” he said.

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