April 5, 2022

Israel back on WHO polio 'outbreak countries' list, following increase in cases

categories : healthcare

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has included Israel back in its list of polio 'outbreak countries,' following the recent increase of cases in occupied Jerusalem.

According to The Times of Israel, the first case of polio in more than 30 years was confirmed in occupied Jerusalem, last month.

Since then, there have been six confirmed polio cases; however, health officials estimated, last week, that the actual number is much higher.

'The data suggests a higher infection rate, which is increasing by 5-10 per cent daily,' an Israeli Health Ministry official told Channel 12. 'Most polio patients are asymptomatic so the data isn't accurate. Right now, we're looking into testing sewage systems in cities where the virus has been discovered and, according to that, we'll decide on the scope of a vaccination campaign.'

Meanwhile, Head of Public Health Services, Dr Sharon Alroy-Preis told the Knesset Health Committee yesterday morning, that fake news, school closures and a general scepticism towards vaccines are to blame for the rise in polio cases.

'Due to fake news, suddenly everything has a question mark over it. Even vaccines which we have had for years and which we've seen eliminate diseases, suddenly they are being questioned,' she said.

'There are entire communities who choose not to get vaccinated for ideological reasons or technical reasons. They have too many children to bring to get vaccinated, or the schedule is too much to keep up with.'

She added that, between 2005 – 2013, polio vaccinations were scaled back as the disease was eradicated, resulting in many babies not getting all the necessary doses.

'We are definitely seeing an outbreak of polio in Israel. It reaches unvaccinated pockets and is spreading,' warned Alroy-Preis.



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