The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday recommended that travel restrictions be placed on Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria for being the only three countries that are currently exporting wild poliovirus, Express News reported.
At the end of 2013, the WHO said in a statement, 60% of polio cases were the result of the international spread of wild poliovirus and that there was increasing evidence that adult travellers had contributed to this spread.
Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and Nigeria were named as countries that are infected with wild poliovirus but not currently exporting it to other countries. WHO also said that these states pose an ongoing risk for new wild poliovirus exportations in 2014.
During the low transmission season of the poliovirus, which is from January to April, there had already been international spread of wild poliovirus from three of the 10 infected countries, one of which is Pakistan.
According to the WHO statement, Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria should officially declare the interruption of poliovirus transmission a national public health emergency if they have not already done so.
The countries should also ensure that all residents and long-term visitors (anyone staying in the country for more than 4 weeks) receive a dose of OPV or inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) between 4 weeks and 12 months prior to all international travel.
The WHO also recommended that the country ensure that individuals undertaking urgent travel (i.e. within 4 weeks), who have not received a dose of OPV or IPV in the previous 4 weeks to 12 months, receive a dose of polio vaccine at least by the time of departure as this will still provide benefit, particularly for frequent travellers.
The three countries also have to ensure that such travellers are provided with an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis in the form specified in Annex 6 of the International Health Regulations (2005) to record their polio vaccination and serve as proof of vaccination.
The WHO also recommended that the states maintain these measures until the following criteria have been met: (i) at least 6 months have passed without new exportations and (ii) there is documentation of full application of high quality eradication activities in all infected and high risk areas; in the absence of such documentation these measures should be maintained until at least 12 months have passed without new exportations.
According to the WHO statement, once the country has met the criteria to be assessed as no longer exporting wild poliovirus, it will continue to be considered infected until the time it has met the criteria to be removed from that category.
All travelers from Pakistan, Syria, Cameroon shld receive documentation of their #polio vaccination status to serve as proof of vaccination— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 5, 2014
New measures on #polio must be in place quickly bcause risk of exportation will go up w/ high season of polio transmission which starts now— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) May 5, 2014