CDC Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions

Polio Outbreak Alert Issued For Certain African Countries

An inactivated poliovirus vaccination suggested before visiting African countries with outbreaks

world globe showing africa

According to an updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Alert there is an increased health risk when visiting certain African countries in 2020.

The CDC said in a Level 2 Travel Alert published on February 11, 2020, that ‘there are confirmed polio outbreaks in various countries primarily located in central and eastern Africa.’

This ‘Practice Enhanced Precaution’ Travel Alert says ‘before departure abroad, travelers going to countries in Africa with circulating poliovirus who have completed their routine polio vaccine series, but who have not already received an adult booster dose, the CDC recommends administering an inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) booster dose.’

The IPV has been the only polio vaccine offered in the USA since 2000.

This polio vaccine is given by a shot in the leg or arm, at 4 different times, depending on the patient’s age.

In the USA, there are various IPV vaccines available, such as Kinrix and Pediarix.

Once vaccinated, your vaccine provider should supply you with an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis Yellow Card. This will serve as your official documentation of polio vaccination when arriving at your destination.

The CDC has identified these 15 countries in the reissued, Level 2 Travel Alert:

  • Angola
  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • The Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Mozambique
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Somalia
  • Togo
  • Zambia

According to the CDC, the United States has been polio-free since 1979.

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

But, most people with polio do not feel sick, says the CDC. 

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Some people have only minor symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the arms and legs. 

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

Because the virus lives in the feces of an infected person, people infected with the disease can spread it to others when they do not wash their hands well after defecating. 

People can also be infected with polio if they drink water or eat food contaminated with infected feces.

There was good news reported during 2019 regarding the elimination of 2 out of 3 polio types.

An independent commission of experts concluded during October 2019, that wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3) has been ‘eradicated’ around the world. 

This announcement follows the earlier eradication of wild poliovirus type 2 during 2015.

Prior to traveling abroad, medication and vaccine counseling appointments can be scheduled with a travel specialist at Vax-Before-Travel.

Polio vaccine news published by Vax-Before-Travel.