New York's Poliovirus Disaster Emergency Could Disrupt Travel

Poliovirus spreading remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern
Manhattan City street scene
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New York (Vax Before Travel)

Investigations into wastewater samples continue to reveal poliovirus in unexpected locations worldwide, including another New York county and again in London, England.

As of September 11, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to affirm 'that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.'

In the State of New York, the governor announced on September 9, 2022, sequencing analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the presence of poliovirus in a total of 57 positive samples of concern, including in Nassau County.

The sample collected in August 2022 from Nassau County has been genetically linked to the case of paralytic polio previously identified in Rockland County, further evidence of expanding community spread.

Furthermore, Governor Kathy Hochul issued an Executive Order declaring a State Disaster Emergency, which increases the availability of resources to protect New Yorkers against paralytic disease.

While there is no cure for polio, it is preventable through effective vaccination.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett commented in a press release, "If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up to date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real."

"I urge New Yorkers not to accept any risk at all."

"Do not wait to vaccinate. If you are unsure of your family's vaccination status, contact a healthcare provider to ensure your loved ones receive all recommended doses."

And in England, following the isolation of vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 from environmental samples in London in May 2022, further virological and epidemiological analysis confirms the continued circulation of this strain. 

Over the past week, two circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) positive environmental samples were reported in London.

Additionally, polioviruses were confirmed this week in Pakistan, Mozambique, DR Congo, Ghana, Niger, and Yemen.

Countries affected by poliovirus circulation are subject to temporary recommendations issued by the Emergency Committee of the International Health Regulations on Poliovirus under the auspices of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern. 

On September 6, 2022, the CDC's latest travel advisory focused on Africa stated that before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series.

In the USA, several polio vaccine options are available at most clinics and pharmacies.

Additional polio outbreak news is posted at Vax-Before-Travel/Polio.

Vax-Before-Travel publishes fact-checked, research-based travel vaccine news curated for international travelers.