TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

ECDC: Threat of polio outbreak real

The European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention released a new rapid risk assessment of a potential polio outbreak and recommended those who do not meet the ECDC recommendations for vaccination do so.

"If WPV (wild poliovirus) can re-emerge in Israel, with a comparable healthcare system to much of the EU and polio vaccination coverage, then we must accept that there is risk that it could re-emerge in the EU/EEA," ECDC Director Marc Sprenger said.

The new risk assessment found that poliovirus, particularly the wild-type polio virus 1, poses a threat of re-establishment in the European Union/European Economic Area. It was found the highest level of risk is among clusters of unimmunized or under-immunized populations, to which 12 million people under the age of 29 years old belong.

"The way to prevent this is not easy but it is known: prevent, detect, respond," Sprenger said. "Additional efforts have to be made to have at least a national average of 90 percent vaccination coverage rate and un- and under vaccinated groups need to be identified and targeted."

The ECDC has looked to Israel as an example of how to optimize preventative measures against the reemergence of poliovirus.

"Surveillance systems need to be in place and working well to detect poliovirus early," Sprenger said. "And finally, member states need to have national response plans in place in the event of an outbreak."