New York Issues Polio Travel Alert
The New York State Department of Health today announced that New Yorkers intending to visit Israel and other countries with circulating poliovirus in 2023 should ensure they are fully immunized against polio.
As of March 10, 2023, Israel's Ministry of Health confirmed four children had tested positive for poliovirus in Northern Israel after one unvaccinated child presented symptoms of paralysis.
Additionally, Israel has reported widespread poliovirus detection in wastewater systems between 2022 and 2023.
This latest polio outbreak follows one that was detected in February 2022 when seven children tested positive for poliovirus in Jerusalem.
Since New York identified an unvaccinated adult from Rockland County with poliovirus infection and acute flaccid paralysis (AFM) in July 2022, the New York State Department of Health has been closely monitoring for poliovirus in wastewater systems.
To date, no additional polio cases have been identified in New York State.
However, about 100 wastewater samples have recently been confirmed with poliovirus in various New York counties.
These wastewater detections offer insights into the number of New Yorkers currently shedding poliovirus.
From a national perspective, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on March 2, 2023, there has been one confirmed AFM case in 2023 out of 7 reports of patients under investigation.
During 2022, the CDC reported 43 confirmed AFM cases in 24 states. This data indicates about a 35% increase in one year.
There have been 723 confirmed cases (children) since the CDC began tracking AFM in August 2014.
AFM is an uncommon but serious neurologic condition caused by viruses, including enteroviruses such as EV-D68.
It affects the nervous system, specifically the area of the spinal cord called gray matter, which causes the muscles and reflexes in the body to become weak.
To alert international travelers of their potential health risks, the CDC reissued its Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions Global Polio notice on March 7, 2023.
The CDC currently recommends enhanced precautions when visiting countries with circulating polio outbreaks, including but not limited to Canada, the United Kingdom (London), Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, and several African countries, as well as Israel.
The CDC also reaffirms polio is a vaccine-preventable disease.
Various polio vaccines are available worldwide, and in the U.S., most health clinics and community pharmacies offer polio vaccination services.
The inactivated poliovirus vaccine is the only polio vaccine offered in the U.S.
For adults living or working in New York, the State suggests speaking with a healthcare provider about getting a polio vaccine booster.