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Polio outbreaks in several countries has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue travel notices for Nigeria, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Papua New Guinea and Syria.


Each country, with the exception of Syria, has reported a number of vaccine-derived polio cases this year–Papua New Guinea (18), Nigeria (17), DRC (15) and Somalia (13).

What is vaccine-derived polio?

The oral polio vaccine (made from a weakened strain of the poliovirus) is given as drops in the mouth to protect against polio. This vaccine has been extremely effective in wiping out polio in developing countries, when most of the population gets vaccinated.

In areas where there are low rates of vaccination against polio and sanitation is poor, the weakened vaccine virus can spread from person to person. Over time, as the virus spreads, it can regain its ability to cause disease in people who are not vaccinated. Polio caused by a vaccine strain is called vaccine-derived polio.

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What can travelers do to prevent polio?

CDC recommends that all travelers to these countries be vaccinated fully against polio. In addition, adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine. Even if you were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with polio before, you may need a booster dose to make sure you are protected.