Polio risk in EU: ECDC statement in The Lancet

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​In response to the correspondence published in The Lancet, “Polio emergence in Syria and Israel endangers Europe”, ECDC replied clarifying the Centre’s recommendations to Member States.

ECDC’s letter to the editor published by The Lancet on 14 November points to the full complement of recommendations made by ECDC.

ECDC has examined the risk of the importation and re-establishment of wild-type polio virus (WPV) to the EU/EEA countries following the isolation of WPV 1 in sewage and asymptomatic cases in Israel, and cases of poliomyelitis in Syria and the Horn of Africa.
 
The full range of ECDC’s recommendations to EU and EEA countries can be found in the Risk assessment on Wild-type poliovirus 1 transmission in Israel (26 September), and the subsequent Rapid risk assessment on suspected polio cases in Syria (24 October).
A letter to the Editor of the scientific journal, The Lancet, from ECDC was published on 14 November. The letter clarified ECDC’s recommendations following publication of a letter by Martin Eichner and Stefan Brockmann that only focused on one specific recommendation by ECDC.
 
Recommendations to EU/ EEA Member States

ECDC’s main recommendations include:
 

  • EU/EEA Member States should give high priority to the assessment of polio vaccination uptake at national, subnational and local level, and to the identification of vulnerable and under-vaccinated populations;

 

  • Countries where the overall national vaccination coverage is below 90% should increase efforts towards improving vaccination coverage under the national schedule;

 

  • Environmental surveillance, enterovirus surveillance and other types of supplementary surveillance should be strengthened, and EU-level standards and performance indicators should be agreed;

 

  • EU/EEA Member States should recommend that all travellers to areas where WPV circulates an up-to-date polio vaccination status.Operational and contingency plans are needed in the EU/EEA to mobilise polio vaccine in case of evidence of WPV transmission;

 

  • The availability of poliovirus vaccines for use in the context of an outbreak should be assessed;

 

  • EU Member States receiving refugees and asylum seekers from Syria should assess their vaccination status on arrival and provide polio vaccination and other vaccinations as needed.

 
 
Expert consultation meeting

An expert meeting was organised by ECDC on 5 November focusing on the scientific assessment of the risk of polio to the EU/ EEA and how ECDC can best support the Member States in this regard. A report of the meeting’s discussions will be made available in due course.
 

Update 22 November 2013:
The report from the expert meeting held on 5 November is now available.
 
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