From The Clarion Project.
Pakistani Jihadis Transferring New Strain of Polio in Syria
Since the Taliban forbade vaccination against the disease, polio -- almost completely eradicated worldwide -- is making a comeback.
A strain of polio originating in Pakistan has made it way to Syria, where it has crippled more than a dozen children, according to doctors from the Kurdish Red Crescent. Jihadis, who are flooding into Syria from Pakistan, have brought the highly contagious disease, which has not been seen in Syria in 14 years. The disease has also been found in Somalia, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Polio – once close to being non-existent globally – has resurfaced due to conservative Islamic edicts, among other reasons. In Pakistan, Taliban clerics have forbidden the vaccinations thought to be a Western conspiracy designed to sterilize Muslim women. Aid workers in the country administering the vaccines have been killed or frightened away due to threats against them.
In other cases, the vaccine has been hard to come by in the war-ravaged Muslim-majority countries. Ignorance has also contributed to the spread of the disease.
USA today reports that this week alone, 11 teachers who were involved in a polio vaccination campaign were kidnapped by jihadis and taken to the Bara area, close to the Afghanistan border in the northwest of Pakistan.
Another vaccination team was scared away in Pakistan’s Punjab’s province, where a cleric threatened a jihad against the team.
After travelers from Pakistan were found to have transferred the highly contagious disease, Saudi Arabia instituted new regulation for all Hajj pilgrims travelling from affected countries.
"Every pilgrim is to take polio vaccine before traveling to Saudi Arabia and also upon arrival at any of the international airports in the Kingdom," according to Mazhar Nisar of Pakistan's Ministry of National Health Regulations and Services. Those who can prove they have been vaccinated are not required.
Dr. Allias Durray, who heads the polio eradication effort in Pakistan, said, "After the Syrian polio outbreak and the flight of refugees in proximity to Turkey and European Union, it is evident that the polio virus is at the doorstep of Europe."
Immigrants to the United States are required to be vaccinated, but there are no requirements for travelers. Speaking for the Center for Global Health at the Center for Disease Control, Donda Hansen said, "We collaborate closely with international organizations and other countries to make sure that international and U.S. guidance on vaccination for immigrants is implemented.”
Further, Hansen said, "The U.S. maintains 'elimination status' in the U.S. by aggressively investigating every suspected case to determine whether an importation has occurred, taking steps to prevent transmission, and safeguarding Americans."
Until recently, there were fewer than 1,000 cases of polio recorded worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.