CDC warns travelers to Somalia of polio risk

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice recently for the country of Somalia because of a polio outbreak there.

An outbreak of polio has been reported in Mogadishu and the Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions of Somalia.

Somalia is reporting a total of four cases (with a total of 5 viruses) in 2018: one circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV) type 2, two cVDPV type 3 and one case with both cVDPV type 2 & type 3, with date of onset of the most recent case on 26 May 2018.

cVDPV is a marker of poor coverage of the oral polio vaccine (OPV).

A vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV); because it has passed from child to child so many times, it has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus.

This means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an infected person. These viruses may cause illness, including paralysis.

CDC recommends that all travelers to Somalia be fully vaccinated against polio.

Long-term travelers to Somalia (staying more than 4 weeks) may be required to show proof of polio vaccination.

Adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine before travel.

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system. It is spread through contact with the feces (poop) of an infected person. It is also spread by drinking water or eating food that is contaminated with infected feces.

Most people with polio do not feel sick. Some people have only minor symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the arms and legs. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function (paralysis). Polio can be fatal if there is loss of function of the muscles used for breathing or an infection of the brain.

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