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Travel Preparation: Global Polio Concerns

International travel can be an exhilarating adventure, opening up a world of new experiences and cultures. However, to make the most of your journey and ensure a smooth and hassle-free trip, being prepared is key. One essential aspect of international travel preparation is staying informed about the current requirements for vaccinations. Health and safety should be a top priority when exploring new destinations, and different countries often have specific vaccination requirements to protect both their citizens and travelers. Before embarking on your international journey, it's crucial to research and confirm the vaccinations necessary for your destination, as these requirements can change over time. This proactive approach will not only help protect your health but also prevent any unexpected delays or entry denials upon arrival. So, remember to keep a keen eye on vaccination requirements and ensure you're up to date with the latest information before setting out on your next global adventure.

Sources for the latest information included the US Center for Disease Control (CDC). Currently, the CDC is calling for a Level 2 warning for travelers which means to practice enhanced precautions for the following countries:

map of circulation poliovirus
Map: Countries where poliovirus has been detected within last 12 months

  • Afghanistan

  • Benin

  • Botswana

  • Burkina Faso

  • Burundi

  • Cameroon

  • Central African Republic

  • Chad

  • Côte d'Ivoire

  • Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Ghana

  • Guinea

  • Indonesia

  • Israel

  • Kenya

  • Madagascar

  • Malawi

  • Mali

  • Mozambique

  • Niger

  • Nigeria

  • Pakistan

  • Republic of the Congo

  • Somalia

  • Sudan

  • Tanzania

  • Togo

  • United Kingdom

  • Yemen

  • Zambia

What is Polio?

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system. Good hand washing practices can help prevent the spread of this disease. Because the virus that causes polio lives in the feces (poop) of an infected person, people infected with the disease can spread it to others when they do not wash their hands well after defecating (pooping). People can also be infected if they drink water or eat food contaminated with infected feces.

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. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function (paralysis). Polio can be fatal if the muscles used for breathing are paralyzed or if there is an infection of the brain.

Key Point for Travelers:

Before travel to any destination listed below, adults who previously completed the full, routine polio vaccine series may receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine.

What can travelers do to prevent polio?

Get the polio vaccine

Children and adults should be up to date on their routine polio vaccines.

Adult travelers may get an inactivated polio vaccine booster if they:

  • are going to a destination that has circulating poliovirus

  • have completed their routine polio vaccine series; and

  • have not already received one adult booster dose.

In a world where international travel is more accessible than ever, safeguarding your health through vaccinations is a responsibility that we should all take seriously. The importance of knowing and adhering to vaccination requirements cannot be overstated. While most travelers are familiar with vaccines like those for hepatitis or yellow fever, we must not forget about the ongoing fight against diseases like polio. By ensuring you're up to date with the polio vaccine and other necessary immunizations, you're not only protecting yourself but also contributing to the global effort to eradicate this devastating disease. So, as you prepare for your next international adventure, remember that knowledge and responsibility go hand in hand. Stay informed, get vaccinated, and travel with the confidence that you're doing your part to keep the world a healthier and safer place for all. Safe travels!

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