Following reports from the public-private partnership known as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative concerning polio cases recently reported in the Ukraine, Madagascar and Mali (which was in a Guinean child), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel notices for Americans heading to any of the affected countries.

Poliovirus  Image/CDC
Poliovirus Image/CDC

CDC recommends that all travelers to the four countries named above be fully vaccinated against polio. In addition, adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine.

In addition to vaccination, health officials advise to avoid eating or drinking things that could be contaminated with polio and practicing good hygiene and cleanliness.

Polio is a disease caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and is mainly spread by person-to-person contact. Polio can also be spread by drinking water or other drinks or eating raw or undercooked food that are contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

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. Most people recover completely. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function in the arms or legs (usually the legs); if there is loss of function of the muscles used for breathing or infection of the brain, death can occur.