The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging travelers to practice enhanced precautions when going to places such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Madagascar and Indonesia due to the circulating poliovirus .
The agency identified 31 countries where travelers are at high risk for the disease in a recently updated advisory.
The virus was eradicated in the western hemisphere in 1994 but exists in some polio-endemic countries, and it has been detected in other places worldwide.
The following destinations have circulating poliovirus, according to the CDC:
- Central African Republic
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Egypt (health care facilities, refugee camps and humanitarian aid settings only)
- Republic of the Congo
- United Kingdom
If a traveler is going to these destinations, the agency recommends children be up to date on their routine polio vaccines , and adults get a one-time inactivated polio vaccine booster. You may need to show proof of vaccination when departing the country.
It takes four doses for children, and three doses for adults to be vaccinated against polio in the U.S. Being fully vaccinated against polio is the best protection from the virus, the CDC said.
Polio is a highly infectious and deadly disease that damages the nervous system. In about 75% of polio cases, there are no recognizable symptoms. In the other 25%, people can experience headaches, fevers, nausea and more about three to six days after exposure.
In rare instances, people may become paralyzed from the disease’s effect on the respiratory muscles and nerves. There is no known cure for polio.
A highly contagious virus, polio spreads person-to-person through contact with an infected person’s stool or droplets from a sneeze or cough, according to the CDC. Another way of transmission is via contaminated water. It can also be spread through contaminated food if their hands weren’t washed beforehand or if a child puts an infected toy in their mouth.
The World Health Organization is set to eradicate polio by 2026 through a 35-year-long plan known as the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
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