Circulating Vaccine-derived Polio Reported in Ukraine

WHO officials recommended that all travelers to polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio.

Two cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV) have been confirmed in a 4-year-old and 10-month-old in southwestern Ukraine, according to a prepared statement from the World Health Organization

Both children, who have accompanying paralysis, are from the southwestern portion of the country, which borders Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland. 

Officials with the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that the Ukraine had been at particular risk of emergence of a cVDPV, due to inadequate vaccination coverage. In 2014, only 50% of children were fully immunized against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

Given the substantial  immunization rates, WHO officials warned that the risk of further spread of this strain within the country is deemed to be high.

“An outbreak response of internationally-agreed standard, as adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2015, requires a minimum of three large-scale supplementary immunization activities with an appropriate oral polio vaccine, to begin within two weeks of confirmation of the outbreak and covering a target population of 2 million children aged less than 5 years, and the public declaration of the outbreak as a national public health emergency,” according to the statement. WHO also urged stepped-up surveillance efforts for cases of acute flaccid paralysis. 

WHO officials recommended in the statement: “that all travelers to polio-affected areas be fully vaccinated against polio. Residents (and visitors for more than 4 weeks) from infected areas should receive an additional dose of oral polio vaccine (OPV) or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) within 4 weeks to 12 months of travel.”