WHO issues update on Israel poliovirus situation

The World Health Organization issued an update on Monday related to the detection of wild poliovirus type I from environmental samples in Israel, where no cases of paralytic polio were reported.

Between February 3 and June 30, WPV1 was isolated in 30 sewage samples from 10 sampling sites in Israel. The detection of viruses throughout the country indicates increased geographical extent of circulation for a prolonged time period. The WHO assesses the risk of additional international spread of WPV from Israel as a moderate to high risk.

Israeli health authorities are continuing to conduct a full public health and epidemiological investigation to search actively for possible cases of paralytic polio and any individuals who are not immunized. The country estimates routine immunization coverage of 94 percent or higher in the last eight years.

Israel frequently employs environmental surveillance to support the detection of diseases. No WPV was detected from samples in Gaza and the West Bank.

Israel is planning to conduct supplementary immunization activities with oral polio vaccine to boost mucosal immunity levels to rapidly interrupt the circulation of the virus. The SIAs follow efforts started in June to immunize any un-immunized or under-immunized children with IPV.

The WHO said that all countries should strengthen surveillance for cases of acute flaccid paralysis to rapidly detect any new poliovirus importations and allow for a rapid response.