Poliovirus found in environmental samples in Israel

The World Health Organization announced on Friday that samples taken from Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip tested positive for wild poliovirus type 1.

While there have not been any reported cases of paralytic polio in either Israel or Palestine, the WHO is looking at the risk of WPV spreading to other countries or infecting residents in the area.

Health officials in both Israel and Palestine have recently taken steps to counter the threat posed by WPV. They have strengthened surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis and increased the frequency of environmental sample collection.

In addition to these recent steps, a supplementary immunization event with bivalent oral polio vaccine is currently taking place in Israel. The event targets children up to 9 years of age and is intended to interrupt the circulation of WPV. Sixty percent of the targeted 1.38 million children have received the vaccination. Palestine also plans to conduct a supplementary immunization event in the near future.

The WHO recommends that all polio-free countries step up surveillance to ensure that polio does not spread into their lands. There should also be a routinely administered polio immunization to protect against the threat of any new infection.