A resurgence of the polio virus and its rapid spread to new countries prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 5, 2014, to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The WHO recommends certain precautions to international travelers. All travelers to or from the countries currently infected and exporting wild poliovirus -- Pakistan, Cameroon, and the Syrian Arab Republic -- should receive polio vaccinations within twelve months of international travel. U.S. citizens should be aware that they may be subject to additional polio vaccination requirements to enter or exit these countries.
In addition, WHO declared seven countries -- Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria, and Somalia -- infected with wild poliovirus but not currently exporting it. These countries pose an ongoing risk for wild poliovirus exportations in 2014. U.S. citizens visiting or residing in these countries may wish to take additional precautions, including determining if they should receive polio vaccinations prior to international travel.
Polio usually strikes children under five and is most often spread through contaminated water. There is no specific treatment or cure, but several vaccines exist.
The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens visiting or residing in countries where wild poliovirus is of concern should check the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler’s Health website for specific vaccination requirements and travel recommendations for each country, and check the WHO webpage for regional poliovirus information. You can also check the country information report for each country on the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ travel.state.gov website.
It is always a good practice to check the information on any country through which you may transit on the way to your destination, since the transit countries may also have their own specific vaccine requirements.