Travellers

News

27 April 2010

Wild type polio outbreak in south-west Tajikistan

On 23 April 2010 the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed cases of imported wild-type poliovirus (type 1) in southwest Tajikistan [1]. These cases are the first to be reported in the WHO European region since it was declared polio-free in 2002 [1]. Tajikistan’s last case of virologically confirmed polio was in 1991 [1]. Seven cases of type 1 polio were identified by routine screening of acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) [1, 2]; AFP screening occurs in all countries as part of the global surveillance for polio.

Wild poliovirus remains endemic in four countries: India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Tajikistan shares a long border with Afghanistan; the current outbreak is occurring in the southwest of Tajikistan in areas bordering Afghanistan & Uzbekistan [1].

In response to these cases the Tajikistani government, with support from WHO, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will be performing three rounds of polio vaccination. WHO have also recommended that neighbouring countries heighten surveillance for AFP and ensure national vaccination coverage is adequate [1].

Advice for travellers

There are no restrictions on travel or trade and at present the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) regard the risk of spread of polio within the European Union as very limited [2, 3]. NaTHNaC recommends that those travelling to Tajikistan 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 recommends that travellers 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 the NaTHNaC Country Information Pages.

Polio is a virus transmitted through food and water. Travellers to areas with ongoing polio transmission should practise strict food and water hygiene. More information on polio can be found on the NaTHNaC Health Information Sheet on polio.

References

1. World Health Organization. Polio in Tajikistan, first importation since Europe certified polio-free. 23 April 2010 [Accessed 27 April 2010]. Available at: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2010_04_23/en/index.html

2. World Health Organization, regional office for Europe. WHO responds to polio outbreak in Tajikistan. 23 April 2010. [Accessed 27 April 2010]. Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/mediacentre/PR/2010/20100423_1

3. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Polio outbreak in Tajikistan. 23 April 2010. [Accessed 27 April 2010]. Available at:

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Links

NaTHNaC health information sheet: Polio

World Health Organization: Polio fact sheet

WHO Global Polio Eradication Initiative