Nightly News   |  November 03, 2013

Polio outbreak threatens Syrian refugees

Jordanian officials have begun an immunization campaign to inoculate Syrians seeking asylum from Syria’s civil war. They worry an outbreak of polio could spread in the refugee camps. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> another developing story we're keeping a close eye on in that region, an outbreak of polio in syria and the possibility of those trying to escape the civil war . nbc chief medical editor nancy snyderman is following this. good evening.

>> reporter: good evening. when the reports of polio broke last week, the world took notice and the world health organization confirmed at least ten cases. experts tell nbc news, they're concerned that could be the tip of the iceberg because polio does not respect borders and as refugees flee, the virus can flee with them. in jordan where the largest refugee camp is, about 120,000 people in a semipermanent camp, almost 19,000 children were immunized with oral polio vaccine , trying to stop the spread of this disease. in lebanon, the concern is a little greater. they've had more than 1 million refugees crossing the border and unlike neighboring countries, the refugees are not concentrated in one area. in fact, they're in cities, in towns and in the countryside. nonetheless, the major common denominator is to intercept people as they're crossing borders and immunize them there. the once proud syrian medical system which could brag that more than 90% of children were vaccinated now has dropped to 60% and with that, the resurgence of deadly polio.