CDC Reports First Case of Vaccine-Associated Polio in U.S. Traveler

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, is reporting what appears to be the first case of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis in an American adult who traveled outside of the U.S. The report is in the February 2 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

While the disease is now extremely rare in the U.S., it is widespread in other parts of the world. Thus, Americans are urged to be vaccinated if they intend to travel to at-risk areas of the world.As reported in Reuters Health (2/7/06), the case involves a young, unvaccinated woman from Arizona who traveled on a study-abroad program to Central and South America in early 2005. She appears to have become infected with poliovirus after having contact with “her host family’s infant grandson, who had recently been given a live, attenuated oral polio vaccine (OPV).”

The woman experienced general malaise, progressive muscle weakness, and fever. Her condition worsened and she was eventually hospitalized and intubated for respiratory failure.

Testing revealed that she was infected with Sabin-strain poliovirus. While she eventually recovered, she still experienced weakness in the legs 60 days after disease onset.

“Healthcare providers assessing vaccine needs for unvaccinated adults traveling to countries that use OPV should be aware of the risk that OPV might pose to such travelers and should consider offering them polio vaccination,” the report suggests. (Reuters Health 2/7/06)

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