Wild Polio Continues Paralyzing Children in Pakistan

Polio remains endemic in a few countries
map of polio high risk countried
by CDC
(Vax Before Travel)

To eradicate polio, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has brought together the latest scientific knowledge on poliovirus to make the most of lessons learned and plan for a world without polio.

While most of the world seldom confirms a polio case, Afghanistan and Pakistan are two countries that continue to battle this vaccine-preventable disease.

To prevent poliovirus from spreading across borders, Pakistan and Afghanistan synchronized nationwide polio immunization campaigns in May 2022.

As of June 5, 2022, Pakistan has successfully fought against polio over the past few years but is confronting endemic wild poliovirus transmission (WPV1) and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2.

Unfortunately, the 6th WPV1 case was recently verified by the Pakistan Polio Laboratory at the National Institute of Health. In 2021, only one person was confirmed.

A 20-month-old boy was paralyzed due to wild polio. The child had an onset of paralysis on May 15 and is now suffering from disabilities in all four limbs.

“Following the first two cases in April, the polio vaccination program took immediate steps to ring-fence this area and prevent the virus from spreading further, particularly in the historic reservoirs of Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta," said Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel on June 3, 2022.

The minister added that it is crucial for parents to vaccinate their children every time as every dose of the polio vaccine further builds immunity.

Poliovirus is not a new disease, as it has been around since ancient times. It lives in an infected person’s throat and intestines and spreads through person-to-person contact.

Pakistan is classified by the International Health Regulations as a state with the potential risk of the international spread of poliovirus. It is, therefore, subject to temporary recommendations as of February 2022.

The WHO stated in March 2022, ‘Although heartened by the apparent progress in Pakistan, the Committee unanimously agreed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and recommended the extension of Temporary Recommendations for a further three months.’

The U.S. CDC and the WHO recommend that all travelers to polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio. There are different poliovirus vaccines authorized, which may contain one, a combination of two, or all three different serotypes in one polio vaccine.

The CDC says ‘Adult travelers who previously completed the full polio vaccine series and are visiting destinations Afghanistan and Pakistan, should receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine. In addition, even those who have been sick with polio may need a booster dose of the polio vaccine.’

Additionally, residents from infected areas and visitors (1 month) should receive an additional dose within one to 12 months of travel.

For more information on polio vaccine recommendations for travel, speak with a certified vaccine provider at least one month before your next trip abroad.

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

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