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Polio threatens war-torn Syria

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The war in Syria has taken a vicious new direction by inflicting the scourge of polio on babies and toddlers under the age of 2.

Before the civil war broke out in 2011, which has already killed more than 100,000 people, nearly all Syrian children were vaccinated against a virulent disease that thrives in unsanitary conditions.

The war has driven 7 million people from their homes and destroyed towns and cities, leaving in its wake an open sewer of misery and disease.

The war has hampered all efforts to maintain vaccination programs to ensure that all babies are immunized.

There are 10 proven cases and 12 others awaiting lab confirmation, the first since 1999.

While a handful of cases may seem inconsequential, it is a major blow against the extraordinary worldwide effort to eradicate polio.

And the disease threatens to leave another generation of children facing a life of having to cope with a paralyzed leg or arm.

The fight against polio has been driven by the generosity and diligence of Rotary International including hundreds of Northern New Yorkers.

They have given of their time to travel to Third World countries to carry the benefits of immunization of the poorest and most vulnerable.

The multiple fronts of the Syrian war have now expanded beyond breathless news reports of chemical warfare, howitzers and AK-47s to a virus living in the squalid streets of a devastated country seeking to infect and destroy the nerve systems of the very young.

While politicians dither over how to bring stability to Syria, they sentence more and more people to polio and threaten an admirable effort to eliminate a horrid disease from the world.

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