The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the international spread of wild poliovirus (polio) this year is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) following outbreaks in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Ten States have experienced polio infections within the past 6 months despite the availability of a vaccine.

The international spread of polio had almost ceased from January 2012 through the low transmission season to April 2013. By the end of 2013, 60% of polio cases were due to international spread of the virus and adult travelers are suspected to have contributed to the spread of the virus. Due to the higher rates of polio during the 2014 low transmission season, the WHO is calling for an coordinated international response to halt this vaccine preventable disease prior to the start of the high transmission season in May/June. Immediate applications include supplementary immunization campaigns with oral poliovirus vaccine, surveillance for poliovirus, and routine immunization.

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Currently Cameroon, Pakistan, and the Syrian Arab Republic are exporting the poliovirus and are considered to pose the greatest risk for further spreading of the virus. Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria, and Somalia are experiencing outbreaks but are not considered to be exporting the virus. The WHO stated that these States should mandate oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) or inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) administration to all residents and long-term visitors prior to international travel.

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