WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

ECDC issues update on wild poliovirus type 1 in Israel

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said on Wednesday that the detection of polio from routine sampling in Israel demonstrates the need for robust surveillance in identifying and controlling polio in Europe.

The Israeli Ministry of Health announced the detection in May of wild poliovirus type 1 in the southern part of the country. Since February, the country found the virus in 67 sewage samples from 24 sampling sites. A fecal survey found WPV1 transmission among asymptomatic carriers in the southern part of the country. To date, no symptomatic polio cases were identified in Israel.

On August 4, Israel began a poliovirus supplementary vaccination campaign with a bivalent oral polio vaccine targeting all children below the age of nine. On August 9, the Ministry of Health expanded the vaccination campaign. Childhood immunization coverage against polio in Israel with four doses of the inactivated poliovirus vaccine is between 90 and 95 percent.

According to the World Health Organization, the risk of further international spread of wild poliovirus type I from Israel is moderate to high.

The WHO European region was certified polio-free in 2002. In 2010, a polio outbreak of WPV1 was detected in Tajikistan, resulting in 711 cases of acute flaccid paralysis and 458 laboratory-confirmed cases. The number was higher than the number of confirmed polio cases throughout the rest of the world in 2010.

The ECDC said the Tajikistan polio outbreak served as a reminder to European countries that high vaccination coverage, monitoring of proactive immunity and maintaining surveillance are key to maintaining a polio-free continent. The detection of polio from routine sampling by Israel shows the necessity of robust surveillance in Europe.