Eastern Afghanistan's Polio Outbreak Increases
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health recently announced that a new WPV1 polio case was reported in the Behsud district of Nangarhar, increasing the total number of polio cases to four in 2023.
In 2022 alone, Afghanistan conducted 12 polio vaccination campaigns, making it the highest number of campaigns worldwide, according to Dr. Nek Wali Momin, the director of the National EOC, in a press release on June 2, 2023.
As per the findings of the public health ministry, the entire eastern part of Afghanistan is facing a significant polio threat due to previous instances of environmental polio cases and the confirmed presence of the virus in contaminated water and polluted surroundings.
Afghanistan is classified by the International Health Regulations as a state infected with WPV1 with a potential risk of international spread.
To alert international travelers, the U.S. CDC included Afghanistan in its later polio outbreak alert.
To protect against poliovirus, vaccination alone is not enough, as poliovirus can survive for a significant period in unsanitary environments, Dr. Momin added.
The necessary steps should be taken to strengthen routine practices and improve hygiene facilities, including safe drinking water and people’s access to essential health services in remote parts of the country.
The WHO’s International Travel and Health recommends that all travelers to polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio.
And residents (and visitors for more than four weeks) from infected areas should receive an additional dose of oral or inactivated polio vaccine within four weeks to 12 months of travel.
Polio outbreak news in June 2023 is posted by Vax-Before-Travel.