Polio update, temporary recommendations to continue

In the latest reporting week a single WPV1 case was detected in Sindh province, taking the YTD total to 37; while in the African region, two cVDPV2 infections were reported in Burkina Faso (Centre-Est region) and one each in both the Central African Republic (RS2 province) and Côte d’Ivoire (Gbokle–Nawa-San Pedro province). Read more. In other polio news, at the 24thExecutive Committee meeting on the international spread of poliovirus on Mar 26, concern was expressed at the global rise in WPV1 and the multiple outbreaks of circulating VDPV across four WHO regions (African, Eastern Mediterranean, South-east Asian and Western Pacific). Spread of cVDPV has now become common in the African region, however it is hoped the introduction of the novel OPV2 vaccine in mid-2020 will substantially lessen the risk of seeding of further outbreaks. (Burkina Faso has been added to the list of States infected with cVDPV2, with potential or demonstrated risk of international spread). While the existing temporary recommendations are to continue for three more months, ‘some if not many international borders are closed to prevent international spread of COVID-19, State Parties may not currently be able to enforce the Temporary Recommendations in all places’. The committee expressed extreme concern that the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to more polio transmission with ‘the potential for international spread and significant reversal of polio eradication and outbreak response campaigns.

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.