Polio Cases Frighten WHO Experts

Dr. Boaz Lev says the WHO is overreacting. (Abir Sultan/Flash 90)
Dr. Boaz Lev says the WHO is overreacting. (Abir Sultan/Flash 90)

The appearance of polio recently in southern Israel threatens not only the rest of Israel but populations overseas as well, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

The WHO assessed a medium-to-high possibility that the polio virus found in Israel will spread beyond its borders, and has issued a travel advisory warning tourists to be vaccinated before visiting Israel.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Health Ministry is weighing a mass inoculation for children ages two months to nine years old who are most at risk of contracting the virus. The ministry has already obtained 200,000 vaccinations out of a total order of 500,000 units. The vaccination campaign will begin in southern Israel, where several cases have been diagnosed in recent weeks.

Family health clinics in Be’er Sheva have canceled nurses’ vacations so that enough staff will be available next week, when the clinics will operate 12 hours a day.

But there was skepticism in Israel about the WHO assessment. Health Ministry deputy director Dr. Boaz Lev said, “The World Health Organization is overreacting to the situation. Their hysterics are disproportionate to the situation on the ground.”