DAMASCUS – Reports have been coming in that an outbreak of the polio virus has struck war-ravaged eastern Syria, but sources out of that country have claimed that “nope, we won’t be doing that.”
At least 10 have been sickened in Deir al-Zour province by polio, but Dr. Asu Maslaton, head of the local relief effort, says “there’s just no way” that they’ll become a metaphor for a nation stricken by its own paralyzing conditions.
“Sorry, we’re just not in the mood,” Dr. Maslaton said by telephone. “Sure, the fact that polio has nearly been eradicated yet is springing up in a relatively modern country could be an analogy for how ancient ills are brought forth by the primitive brutality of bloodshed, but come on, we’ve been at this for nearly three years. Give us a fucking break.”
Dr. Maslaton went on to add that the fact that so far all of the victims appear to be very young children “should in no way” be turned into a simile for a generation lost to battle the tyranny of President Bashar al-Assad.
“We get it, believe us,” Dr. Maslaton said. “Syria is literally paralyzed by civil war. Hahaha – very funny. Well you guys [in the West] are the ones who love metaphor, not us, but pointing out that America has grown fat on its riches or Britain has shrunk to a powerless old crone isn’t quite as hurtful as saying that sick Syrians are evocative of a sick Syria, is it?”
Worldwide, there were 650 confirmed cases of polio in 2011 and only 223 last year, so cases reported in a previously cleared country is very disappointing news. Helga Vries, World Health Organization director for the Middle East, says more diagnoses are likely unless conditions improve.
“With nearly 7 million people driven from their homes, infection and dietary crises are having a field day,” Vries said. “At this point, it’s hard to imagine Syria getting back up on its feet.”