File - A health worker gives Lebanese school children drops of oral polio vaccine in Sidon, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)
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As the fourth round of Lebanon's national polio vaccination campaigns comes to a close, NGOs and U.N. agencies say that ongoing "mop-up" vaccinations are needed to prevent an outbreak of the potentially deadly disease in Lebanon.An outbreak of polio in Syria last year and a verified case in Iraq in January have resulted in stringent measures being taken by UNICEF, the WHO and the Public Health Ministry to prevent the spread of the disease to Lebanon.Should the vaccination campaign fail to prevent the disease from spreading, additional safety measures are in place.Polio is currently endemic in four countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Yemen – but since the outbreak of the disease in Syria the wild polio virus has been traced to Egypt, Gaza and the West Bank, Abdelmunem and Mansour told The Daily Star."We know that it is most probably also present in the environment in Lebanon, but I cannot assume that there is any kind of transmission in humans at this stage," said Mansour. However, he added that the WHO has not tested for the presence of the disease in Lebanon. Hamadeh said the Public Health Ministry has also begun vaccinating against measles and rubella as part of the polio campaign, in response to an increased number of cases.
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