ECDC publishes rapid risk assessment on polio in Syria

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control published a rapid risk assessment on Oct. 23 regarding recent developments of polio in Syria.

"EU Member States receiving refugees and asylum seekers from Syria should assess their vaccination status on arrival and provide polio vaccination and other vaccinations as needed," the assessment said.

The report recommended that countries with overall vaccination coverage below 90 percent should improve coverage under the national schedule.

The ECDC evaluated Europe's risk for the importation and re-establishment of wild-type poliovirus in a more comprehensive risk assessment that was published on Sept. 26. Wild-type poliovirus 1 was detected in sewage and asymptomatic carriers in Israel.

In the latest assessment, the ECDC recommended national and local governments identify under-vaccinated areas and increase the delivery of polio vaccinations to communities and travelers. The report suggested strengthening symptom surveillance in environmental, enterovirus and other supplementary areas, as well as reaching an agreement on standards and performance indicators.

The ECDC's assessment also recommended development of contingency plans to distribute polio vaccines in case of an outbreak.

Thirteen cases of the wild-type poliovirus 1 have been confirmed in Syria. Closely related strains have been detected in environmental samples in Israel, West Bank and the Gaza Strip since February. The last wild poliovirus in Syria was detected in 1999, according to the World Health Organization.