The 28th (IHR) Emergency Committee meeting on polio was conducted last week from which it was announced that ‘WPV1 cases and [the] proportion of WPV1 positive environmental samples have decreased during the first quarter of 2021’, but transmission continues in cross-border reservoirs in two regions of Pakistan-Afghanistan, as well as in Karachi, so upsurges in infections are expected due to suboptimal immunisation rates in both countries. On circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV), the committee expressed concern over cVDPV2 spread to Kenya and Senegal and the new cVDPV1 outbreak in Madagascar. The decision was also made to ‘maintain Malaysia in the list of infected countries (despite more than 13 months since the last cVDPV detection), given the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the implementation of outbreak response’. In conclusion, there is a very high risk of international spread of both WPV1 and cVDPV2 and the Temporary Recommendations of the PHEIC will continue for another three months. In other news, the novel OPV2 (nOPV2) vaccine is already being administered in Nigeria and Liberia, and another four countries will start using it in the next week. Lastly, in a summary of weekly polio cases as reported by the GPEI, cVDPV2 infections were registered by Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali and Nigeria, while a cVDPV3 positive environmental sample was detected in Shanghai, China. Read more
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.