Polio infections detected in Sabah, Labuan

After a 7-month pause polio infections have been detected again, this time in both Sabah and the Federal Territory of Labuan (a group of islands off the NW coast of Sabah). News sources are reporting that only one of the four children found to be infected was ‘local’ - their ages ranged from 4mo to 11 years. Read more. In other polio news, it has been a grim week for both wild poliovirus (WPV1) and circulating vaccine-derived cases (cVDPV) reported to the GPEI Afghanistan, seven WPV1 cases and Pakistan, two. For cVDPV2 in Africa: the DRC, 13 cases; Burkina Faso, five and Côte d’Ivoire, eight cVDPV2 cases. And in the Ukraine, only 30 percent of infants aged under 12mo are receiving their primary series of polio vaccines, sparking a health department warning the country is at high risk of an outbreak. Lastly, at the 25th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee on June 23, it was noted that ‘the global situation remains of great concern’ and so the Temporary Recommendations under the PHEIC will be extended for a further three months. Mixed news with regards to WPV1 as the YTD case numbers in Afghanistan and Pakistan rose to 83 compared with 60 for the same period in 2019, but Nigeria has been declared WPV-free. Of the States no longer infected by cVDPV, but which remain vulnerable to re-infection (Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and China), there are no specific vaccination requirements for residents, long-term visitors and travellers but these countries must enhance surveillance activities and intensify vaccination efforts before reporting back to the committee after 12 months.

Advice for travellers

Poliomyelitis is a potentially serious viral illness that is spread through contact with infected faeces or saliva. The risk to travellers is generally low, however vaccination is recommended for travel to affected regions and is a requirement for travel to/from some countries. If at risk, adults should have a booster to the childhood series. More on polio.

Before you travel, call Travelvax Australia’s telephone advisory service on 1300 360 164 (toll-free from landlines) for country-specific advice and information. You can also make an appointment at your nearest Travelvax clinic to obtain vaccinations, medication to prevent or treat illness, and accessories for your journey.