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As the Risk of International Transmission of Poliomyelitis Rises, Travelers Should Visit a Medical Travel Clinic and Get an Evaluation Before Traveling to High-Risk Countries

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2014-07-12
  • Last Updated:2017-01-11

The World Health Organization (WHO) listed the 10 most high-risk countries for poliomyelitis on May 5 (Pakistan, Syria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Nigeria), and declared the international transmission of poliomyelitis as an international public health emergency. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reminded Taiwanese citizens to make sure they get a poliovirus vaccine and an international vaccination certificate issued by the inoculating hospital before departure if they are going to stay in the abovementioned countries for more than 4 weeks. 
 
The WHO recommends that citizens from high-risk countries and travelers who are staying in those countries for more than 4 weeks take 1 dose of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) or inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) 4 weeks before departure. Citizens who are departing due to emergencies and cannot complete the vaccination 4 weeks in advance should make sure they get vaccinated and obtain an international vaccination certificate issued by the inoculating hospital before they depart, which is to be examined when they leave the high-risk country. It is expected that international transmission of the virus can be effectively blocked in this way. 
 
The CDC announced that the poliomyelitis epidemic started in May. Travelers should make sure they have completed the vaccination against poliomyelitis if they must go to the abovementioned high-risk countries. Unvaccinated young children should postpone traveling to these countries. By July 1, 2014, a total of 112 poliomyelitis cases had been reported globally, representing an annual increase of 95 reported cases. New or revived cases of poliomyelitis have emerged in 10 countries around the world, which is a significant increase of 5 countries compared to the same period last year. Citizens are reminded to visit one of the country’s 23 medical travel clinics to have an evaluation done in advance, get a reinforced poliovirus vaccine when necessary, and obtain a vaccination certificate before going to the abovementioned countries. 
 
Poliomyelitis is caused by poliovirus, which is a highly communicable virus mainly transmitted via fecal-oral contact. The virus can be found in an infected person’s saliva 36 hours after exposure, and excreted in his or her feces after 72 hours. This could last for as long as 3 to 6 weeks. Moreover, over 95% of the infected people show only minimal symptoms or no symptom at all; in less than 1% of cases symptoms may include paralysis. However, this can be effectively prevented through vaccination. For any questions related to poliomyelitis, please visit the Border Quarantine Measures/Major International Epidemics pages on the CDC website (http://www.cdc.gov.tw), or call the toll-free reporting and enquiry hotline 1922 (or 0800-001922).