Polio warning updated in five countries

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The polio outbreak warning has been updated in five countries, with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) having issued Level 2 travel alerts for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Somalia and Syria. The Level 2 warning signifies a need to practice enhanced precautions.

In Nigeria, the Ministry of Health has reported several cases of poliovirus in the state of Borno in northeastern Nigeria. Polio is a viral infection that is vaccine preventable and the CDC has therefore recommended that all travellers to Nigeria be fully vaccinated against the disease. This also applies to all travellers to the other four countries experiencing an outbreak; and may be necessary even if travellers were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with polio before. In addition to vaccination, travellers should ensure good personal hygiene and follow advice on prevention of food and water-borne diseases.

Most individuals who acquire polio don’t develop symptoms, but when symptoms do occur they may range from a mild illness with fever, to symptoms of meningitis or paralysis. Paralysis is rare, but when it does occur, it is often long-lasting.