According to the Israel Ministry of Health this week, The State of Israel is in the throes of a polio outbreak. In the Jerusalem area and the surrounding area – 7 asymptomatic cVDPV3 cases have been reported and one child with paralysis since the index case in early March. All are not vaccinated.
As an immediate response, immunization activities with inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) and catch-up vaccination were initiated in Jerusalem, and a bivalent oral polio vaccine (bOPV) campaign started on 4 April 2022 in Jerusalem district which has been extended to the entire country as of 13 April. Given the high immunization coverage and robust surveillance system in the country, the risk of national spread is considered ‘moderate’, according to WHO.
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease that largely affects children under five years of age. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person and spread mainly through the fecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g., contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and cause paralysis.
Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system. Good hand washing practices can help prevent the spread of this disease. Because the virus that causes polio lives in the feces of an infected person, people infected with the disease can spread it to others when they do not wash their hands well after defecating. People can also be infected if they drink water or eat food 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 the muscles used for breathing are paralyzed or if there is an infection of the brain.