Status: affected by wild poliovirus type 1

Afghanistan is affected by ongoing endemic wild poliovirus transmission. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is focusing on reaching every last child in Afghanistan with vaccines, strengthening surveillance and maintaining political commitment, financial resources and technical support at all levels.

Polio this week in Afghanistan

  • One wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) case was reported from Nangarhar province in the country’s Eastern Region. The case had onset of paralysis on 16 May, bringing the total of WPV1 cases for 2023 to four.  All four cases are from Nangarhar province.
  • Nangarhar was covered during the recent subnational immunization days (SNIDs) in May, as part of intensified efforts to interrupt persistent local WPV1 transmission in the area.
  • Additionally, five new WPV1-positive environmental samples were reported in Nangarhar and one from Kandahar (Southern Region), bringing the total of environmental positive samples to 28 this year in the country.
  • The sample from Kandahar was collected on 21 May 2023, and the closest genetic match is the ongoing WPV1 transmission in Nangarhar, underlining the risk this outbreak poses to polio-free areas in the rest of the country.  It is the first detection of WPV1 outside of the endemic eastern area in Afghanistan since 2021.  Kandahar and other areas of Southern Region have continued to implement SNIDs, however, there is a high-risk of the virus to spread further and reestablish transmission in Southern Region due to a  significant proportion of susceptible children.  A response to this most recent detection is currently being planned to urgently ensure the virus does not establish a foothold in the area.

International Health Regulations

Afghanistan is classified by the International Health Regulations (IHR) as a state infected with WPV1 with potential risk of international spread. It is therefore subject to temporary recommendations as of May 2023.

 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.

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