Health Professionals

Clinical Updates

25 January 2013

Imported polio detected in environmental samples in Egypt.

On 18 January 2013 the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that wild polio virus (WPV) had been detected in sewage samples from the Al Haggana and Al Salam districts of Cairo, Egypt. This WPV is related to a strain reported from north Sindh in Pakistan in September 2012. Currently, no reported cases of paralysis in Egypt have been associated with this WPV strain [1].

This is the first reported importation of WPV from Pakistan since Egypt was declared polio free in 2004 [1, 2]. Egypt’s last indigenous WPV environmental sample was reported in 2005, with the last previously imported WPV (related to the north Sudan virus) detected in a sewage sample from Aswan in 2010 [2].

Emergency efforts are ongoing between the Egyptian Government, the Ministry of Heath and Population, WHO and UNICEF. A field investigation and an active case search is ongoing and the frequency of environmental sampling has been increased. A large scale Cairo-wide immunisation campaign for children under five years of age is also planned [1].

WHO, UNICEF and the Polio Monitoring Cell in Pakistan have issued a statement describing this situation as critical for the polio programme in Pakistan. They have also announced that children under the age of five years leaving Pakistan will be given the oral polio vaccine at airports [1].

Advice for travellers

Polio virus is transmitted through food and water. Travellers to areas with ongoing polio transmission should practise strict food and water hygiene.

NaTHNaC recommends that all travellers to Egypt should have completed their primary vaccination course against polio. In addition, they should receive a booster dose of a polio-containing vaccine if they have not received one in the last 10 years.

NaTHNaC also advises that all travellers, independent of destination, should complete a primary vaccination course for polio according to the UK schedule of immunisation. Those travelling to countries endemic for polio or that have had imported cases of polio in the last three years, should receive a booster dose of a polio-containing vaccine if they have not received one in the previous 10 years. These countries can be identified on NaTHNaC’s Country Information Pages.

References

1. Polio Eradication Initiative. Importation of wild poliovirus detected in environmental (sewage) samples in Egypt. 18 January 2013. [Accessed 25 January 2013]. Available at:

http://www.emro.who.int/polio/polio-news/new-polio-virus-egypt.html

2. Polio Eradication Initiative. Egypt. [Accessed 25 January 2013]. Available at:

http://www.emro.who.int/polio/countries/egypt.html

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