Polio Outbreak Reported in Niger, Travel Alert Issued
An outbreak of polio has been reported in the Zinder Region in Niger, which is located in northwest Africa.
This polio outbreak is caused by vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV), reported the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on November 26, 2018.
Polio remains endemic in 3 countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Until the poliovirus transmission is interrupted in these countries, adjacent countries remain at risk of importation of polio, such as Niger.
Previously, on October 27th, 2018, the CDC published Level 2 Travel Alerts regarding the increased spreading of the poliovirus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, and Syria.
Separately, the US Department of State issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory, Reconsider Travel, regarding safety and security risks in Niger.
Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure for polio.
But, there are safe and effective vaccines to prevent polio.
Polio caused by a vaccine strain is called vaccine-derived polio.
The oral polio vaccine is given as drops in the mouth to protect against polio. In areas where there are low rates of vaccination against polio and sanitation is poor, the weakened vaccine virus can spread from person to person, says the CDC.
Over time, as the polio virus spreads, it can regain its ability to cause disease in people who are not vaccinated.
Polio has been eliminated from the United States thanks to widespread polio vaccination in this country.
Vaccine-derived polio cannot spread in the United States for 2 reasons:
- The USA has high vaccination rates against polio, and,
- The oral polio vaccine is not available in the USA.
Following the introduction of the trivalent inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) in 1955 and trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) in 1963—the number of polio cases in the USA fell rapidly to fewer than 10 in the 1970s, says the CDC.
This CDC Travel Alert recommends that all travelers to Niger be vaccinated fully against polio.
In addition, adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine. Even if you were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with polio before, you may need a booster dose to make sure you are protected.
Moreover, the CDC suggests visitors to Niger are up-to-date on routine vaccines such as MMR, DTaP, Varicella, and the annual influenza vaccinations.
Additionally, the CDC is warning visitors to protect themselves from yellow fever, various hepatitis, malaria, typhoid, and the Zika virus.
To enter Niger, the yellow fever vaccination is required.
International travelers can find convenient locations to schedule a travel vaccination appointment by visiting Vax-Before-Travel.
Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the CDC.