Polio Risk Expands in Israel

Israel reports potentially eight polio cases in 2022
map of polio outbreaks
(Precision Vaccinations)

The Israel Ministry of Health (MoH) recently announced new poliovirus cases in Jerusalem and the surrounding area in 2022.

On March 29, 2022, the MoH reported:

  • Certain polio cases of illness - 6 not vaccinated,
  • Illness cases with high suspicion - 1 not vaccinated,
  • A new patient in test-1 (partially vaccinated).

Israel's initial polio case was confirmed on March 17, 2022, when a young girl developed acute flaccid paralysis. 

Further testing of the virus isolated from the girl revealed genetic links to circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 3 (VDPV3) strains detected in environmental samples collected between September 2021 and January 2022 from testing sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

The MoH again 'calls on parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated according to the vaccination routine and to vaccinate the children who have not yet been protected from this potentially fatal infectious disease.'

Israel previously confirmed a wild poliovirus (WPV1) outbreak in 2013.

The Lancet reported that between 2005 and 2013, Israel discontinued the administration of the live polio vaccine, deciding that it was no longer necessary.

Following that confirmation, the vaccine returned to the pediatric vaccination schedule.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) defines polio outbreak countries are those that have stopped indigenous wild poliovirus but are experiencing re-infection either through the importation of wild or vaccine-derived poliovirus from another country or the emergence and circulation of vaccine-derived poliovirus.

And endemic countries, which have never stopped the transmission of indigenous wild poliovirus, can also be affected by outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus.

As of March 29, 2022, this GPEI map shows the latest number of WPV1 and cVDPV polio cases in each affected country.

The U.S. CDC issued Level 2 Travel Advisories on March 25, 2022, to alert international travelers of their health risks regarding polio outbreaks in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe.

The CDC says before any international travel, anyone unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or with an unknown polio vaccination status should complete the routine polio vaccine series.

And before traveling to any high-risk destination, the CDC recommends that adults who previously completed the entire routine polio vaccine series receive a single, lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine.

Previously, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that such travelers should have an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis to serve as proof of polio vaccination.

And based on the current situation regarding WPV1 and cVDPV, the WHO's Director-General accepted the WHO's Committee's assessment on March 4, 2022, determining that the situation relating to poliovirus continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and should be extended for three additional months.

The poliovirus consists of an RNA genome enclosed in a protein shell called a capsid. 

There are three serotypes of wild poliovirus, type 1, type 2, and type 3, each with a slightly different capsid protein. In addition, highly divergent vaccine-derived polioviruses, such as VDPV3, have been identified since 2002.

However, immunity to one serotype does not confer immunity to the other two.

Polio can strike at any age, mainly affecting children under five years old. Moreover, the U.S. CDC says there is no cure for polio.

Therefore, the strategy to eradicate polio is to prevent future infections by immunizing every child.

The U.S. CDC's latest polio vaccine recommendations for children and adults were published on February 17, 2022.

The CDC recommends that children get four doses of the polio vaccine. The inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is the only polio vaccine administered in the U.S. since 2000. IPV is given by a shot in the leg or arm, depending on the patient's age. 

The oral polio vaccine is used in other countries.

Various polio vaccines are listed on this Vax-Before-Travel webpage.

In the U.S., most pediatric practices, health clinics, and certain pharmacies offer polio vaccinations services.

PrecisionVaccinations publishes fact-checked research-based news.

Note: This news article edited various content sources for clarity and was manually curated for mobile readers.

Updated on April 4, 2022 - Countries affected by poliovirus circulation are subject to temporary recommendations issued by the Emergency Committee of the International Health Regulations on Poliovirus, under the auspices of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The latest report by the Committee is as of March 11, 2022.