IHR Emergency Committee adds Equatorial Guinea as a wild poliovirus exporting country and renews PHEIC recommendations

ECDC comment

On 31 July 2014, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation reconvened the second meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on the International Spread of Wild Poliovirus. The conclusions of the expert discussions on 31 July 2014 confirmed that conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) continue to be met for wild poliovirus i.e. that the international spread of polio in 2014 continues to constitute an extraordinary event and a public health risk to other states for which a  coordinated international response continues to be essential.

http://who.int/mediacentre/news/statements/2014/polio-20140803/en/
 
On 31 July 2014, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation reconvened the second meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on the International Spread of Wild Poliovirus.
 
The purpose of this Emergency Committee meeting was to re-assess the Temporary Recommendations to reduce the international spread of wild poliovirus announced on 5 May 2014.
 
The conclusions of the expert discussions on 31 July 2014 confirmed that conditions for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) continue to be met for wild poliovirus i.e. that the international spread of polio in 2014 continues to constitute an extraordinary event and a public health risk to other states for which a  coordinated international response continues to be essential.
 
The Committee advised that the Temporary Recommendations for residents and visitors to polio-infected countries should remain unchanged.
 
The list of countries meeting the criteria for “State currently exporting wild poliovirus” has changed.  It now includes Equatorial Guinea (previously in the group of polio-infected countries) in addition to Cameroon, Pakistan and Syria. This follows the detection of wild poliovirus in a sewage sample in Brazil in march 2014 and found to have been imported from Equatorial Guinea.
The total number of polio-infected countries remain however unchanged and the WHO divides the ten polio-infected countries into two groups:

  • Four polio-exporting countries: Pakistan, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Syria, where cases of polio are reported and from which poliovirus has been exported in the recent past, and;
  • Six polio-infected countries: Afghanistan, , Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and Nigeria, which are infected with wild poliovirus but currently not exporting wild poliovirus to other countries.

 
The detection of imported wild-poliovirus in the environment in Brazil is a reminder for polio-free countries, including all EU countries, that surveillance and maintaining high vaccination coverage against polio is of utmost importance.