Bulgaria Fears Polio Import from Syria

Health | November 7, 2013, Thursday // 11:25|  views

Bulgaria's chief epidemiologist, Dr. Angel Kunchev. Photo by BGNES

There is a “real risk” that Syrian refugees may bring polio to Bulgaria, according to Bulgarian epidemiology expert Angel Kunchev.

Kunchev told Btv on Thursday that no cases of the disease have been registered so far in Bulgaria. However, he warned that many children in the country’s Roma communities have not been vaccinated.

“A month ago, we vaccinated all children under 15 in the refugee centers. But we need to have stores of this vaccine,” the expert said.

“What is dangerous is not whether the infection will be imported, but whether it will find an unvaccinated carrier,” he explained.

At the end of October, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 10 cases of polio in Syria, in what is the first outbreak of the disease in the country since 1999.

Bulgaria is the gateway to the European Union for refugees fleeing Syria via Turkey, many crossing the border illegally to seek asylum.

The polio vaccine is part of the mandatory vaccine schedule in Bulgaria.

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Tags: polio, Syria, refugees, Bulgaria, epidemiology, vaccine


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