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Polio Remains a Global Travel Concern

February 22, 2023 • 4:48 pm CST
U.S. CDC polio alert Feb. 2023
(Vax Before Travel)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today announced it had renewed and expanded its Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions focused on polio outbreaks and the continued detections of poliovirus.

On February 21, 2023, the CDC stated some international destinations have circulating poliovirus.

At present, only two countries remain with the indigenous transmission of wild poliovirus type 1, Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

And before traveling to any at-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine.

Furthermore, children should also be up to date on their routine polio vaccines.

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system. 

Because the virus that causes polio lives in the feces of an infected person, people infected with the disease can spread it to others. People can also be infected if they drink water or eat food contaminated with infected feces.

In 2022, poliovirus was detected in wastewater systems in travel hotspots, including New York, London, Canada, and Israel.

In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function. And polio can be fatal if the muscles used for breathing are paralyzed or if there is an infection of the brain.

Polio is a vaccine-preventable disease, says the CDC.

Approved polio vaccines are generally available in the U.S. at travel clinics and pharmacies.