MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2018

WHO sends mission to Israel after detection of wild poliovirus

The World Health Organization recently coordinated a five-day mission to Israel after wild poliovirus type I was detected in sewage in Israel's Southern District.

Following a request from Israeli health authorities, a team of international polio experts conducted the mission to Israel, concluding the visit on June 26. Israel detected the virus during its a rigorous environmental sampling program. The virus was first isolated from sewage samples collected in Beersheba in February.

The expert team determined the virus is of the South Asian genotype. The team detected no cases of paralytic polio during the visit.

To prevent the contraction of polio, Israel will conduct a supplementary immunization campaign with oral polio vaccine. The supplementary campaign is meant to protect any children in the country who missed routine vaccinations for any reason. Israel maintains high vaccination coverage and polio immunity in the population.

"We have reviewed the evidence and the steps that have been taken to date," Dina Pfeifer, the program managers for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization and WHO/Europe, said. "We are thankful to the government of Israel for their openness and we are fully committed to supporting their efforts."

Israel's last case of paralytic polio occurred in 1988.

The indigenous transmission of wPV remains endemic in Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. There is currently an outbreak of wPV in the Horn of Africa, with 31 cases confirmed in Somalia and Kenya.