Polio expands - travelers need to be vaccinated.

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Monday, 28 July, 2014

The number of countries with polio and the total number of cases increased so much in 2014 that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an emergency. In 2013, 416 cases occurred in five countries, then, in the first six months of 2014, the numbers were 106 and nine countries. WHO has made polio the world's second Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Infected countries are in the Middle East and Africa and have been divided int two groups: 1) those that had exported wild poliovirus this year (Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria) and 2) those where wild poliovirus was endemic but had not been exported (Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and Nigeria). Israel was added when wild poliovirus was found in sewage.

Travelers move the poliovirus between countries.

Rick Speare, a Director of THS, describes this situation in his latest Travel Bug column in Medical Observer. People arriving in Australia from all 10 countries need up-to-date polio vaccination status with documentation, For group 1 countries (Pakistan, Cameroon or Syria) proof of a booster vaccination within the last year is needed.

If you are traveling or a travel health advisor, check the current global situation at www.polioeradication.org.

Rotary is a strong supporter of the global polio eradication campaign - see Rotary Australia's latest announcement.

Children living with polio-related disabilities. Image from www.vaccineinformation.org.

Posted by Rick Speare