Status: affected by wild poliovirus type 1 and vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1

As a result of ongoing disease surveillance, the Global Polio Laboratory Network confirmed the presence of WPV1 in a 3 year old child from Lilongwe, the capital. Analysis shows that the virus is genetically linked to WPV1 that was detected in Pakistan’s Sindh province in October 2019. This is the first WPV1 case from the continent of Africa in over five years.

As an imported case from Pakistan, this detection does not affect the WHO African Region’s wild poliovirus-free certification status officially marked in August 2020. Malawi last recorded a case of wild poliovirus in 1992. The polio eradication programme has seen importations from endemic countries to regions that have been certified wild poliovirus-free in the past, and has moved quickly to successfully stop transmission of the virus in these areas.

Polio this week in Malawi

  • One WPV1 case from 2021 was detected in 2022.
  • No cVDPV1 cases were reported this week. There were four cases reported in the country in 2022.

International Health Regulations

Malawi is classified by the International Health Regulations (IHR) as a state infected with WPV1 and circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (cVDPV1) with potential risk of international spread. It is therefore subject to temporary recommendations as of August 2023.

WHO advice

As per the advice of an Emergency Committee convened under the International Health Regulations (2005), the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Countries affected by poliovirus transmission are subject to temporary recommendations. To comply with the Temporary Recommendations issued under the PHEIC, any country infected by poliovirus should declare the outbreak as a national public health emergency, ensure the vaccination of residents and long-term visitors and restrict at the point of departure travel of individuals, who have not been vaccinated or cannot prove the vaccination status.

Travel advice

WHO’s International Travel and Health recommends that all travellers 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 OPV or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) within 4 weeks to 12 months of travel.

Situation Reports