The US State Department on Thursday told Americans to consider precautions before traveling to Israel because of the danger of wild poliovirus in the country.
Israel is lumped together with Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nigeria, and Somalia as countries that “pose an ongoing risk for wild poliovirus exportations.” The State Department suggested that Americans abroad in those countries “may wish to take additional precautions, including determining if they should receive polio vaccinations prior to international travel.”
Poliomyelitis is a highly infectious, potentially crippling disease transmitted by person-to-person contact and through water contaminated with feces. Vaccination programs begun in the 1950s helped eradicate the deadly virus from much of the world.
For travelers to Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria, where poliomyelitis is prevalent in people and in the wild, the US government advises Americans to receive polio vaccinations before travel and furthermore “be aware that they may be subject to additional polio vaccination requirements to enter or exit these countries.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, travelers should be fully vaccinated against polio, practice proper personal hygiene and receive a one-time IPV booster before departure to Israel.
Last summer, traces of a wild strain of polio were found in the sewage system in the Bedouin town of Rahat in southern Israel, prompting a scare and mass vaccination across Israel. No infections were documented, however, and vaccination rates in Israel remain well above 90 percent of the population.