The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their travel notice for Africa due to high polio risk in some 25 countries on the continent.
While the African Region was certified free of wild poliovirus one year ago following four years without a case, outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) continue to spread. cVDPVs occur in communities where not enough children have received the polio vaccine. Cases increased last year in part because of disruptions to polio vaccination campaigns caused by COVID-19. Since 2018, 23 countries in the region have experienced outbreaks and more than half of the global 1071 cVDPV cases were recorded in Africa.
The following destinations in Africa are currently considered high risk for polio:
- Benin (2 cVDPV2 in 2021 and three cVDPV2 cases reported in 2020)
- Burkina Faso (two cases reported in 2021, 65 cases in 2020)
- Cameroon (seven cVDPV2 cases reported in 2020)
- Central African Republic (four cVDPV2 cases reported in 2020)
- Chad (99 cVDPV2 cases reported in 2020)
- Côte d’Ivoire (61 cVDPV2 cases in 2020)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (10 cVDPV2 in 2021, 81 in 2020)
- Egypt (healthcare facilities, refugee camps, and humanitarian aid settings only)
- Ethiopia (9 cVDPV2 cases in 2021, 36 in 2020)
- Gambia (6 cVDPV2 cases in 2021)
- Ghana (12 cVDPV2 cases in 2020)
- Guinea (6 cVDPV2 cases in 2021, 44 in 2020)
- Liberia (3 cVDPV2 )
- Madagascar (six cases of cVDPV2) in 2021 and two from 2020
- Mali (51 cVDPV2 cases in 2020)
- Niger (10 cVDPV2 cases in 2020)
- Nigeria (123 cVDPV2 cases in 2021, 8 in 2020)
- Republic of the Congo (2 cVDPV2 cases in 2021 and 2020)
- Senegal (13 cVDPV2 cases in 2021)
- Sierra Leone (5 cVDPV2 cases in 2021, 10 in 2020)
- Somalia (14 cVDPV2 in 2020)
- South Sudan ( 9 cVDPV2 cases in 2021 and 50 in 2020)
- Sudan (58 cVDPV2 cases in 2020)
- Togo (9 cVDPV2 cases in 2020)
- Uganda (Two cVDPV2 positive environmental samples linked to the N’Djamena outbreak in Chad are reported in 2021)
Everyone should be fully vaccinated against poliovirus according to schedule (see Polio Vaccination: What Everyone Should Know).
Before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series.
Some international destinations are considered high risk for polio. Before travel to any high-risk destination, CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine.
Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system. Good hand washing practices can help prevent the spread of this disease. Because the virus that causes polio lives in the feces of an infected person, people infected with the disease can spread it to others when they do not wash their hands well after defecating. People can also be infected if they drink water or eat food contaminated with infected feces.
Most people with polio do not feel sick. Some people have only minor symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the arms and legs. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function (paralysis). Polio can be fatal if the muscles used for breathing are paralyzed or if there is an infection of the brain.