Posted: May 6, 2014 5:41 PM by Rebecca Buchanan
Updated: May 6, 2014 5:41 PM
BATON ROUGE- The polio virus is declared an international concern but doctors say vaccination is the answer.
The World Health Organization declared the polio virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. They're asking travelers to beware, and get booster shots, if traveling to countries where the disease is spreading. The crippling disease is present in Pakistan, Cameroon, Syria, Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Somalia and Nigeria.
"Once you've been vaccinated then you're protected from the polio virus and so you can't bring it back with you, but unvaccinated or under vaccinated people absolutely can contract the virus and then bring it back," explained Dr. Mindy Calandro, a pediatrician with the Baton Rouge Clinic. "And really, that's the big thing that we worry about in this country, is that people who have traveled to one of those countries, or someone who might have lived there and moved to the United States, that's how polio could get reintroduced into the United States. That's why it's so important for all children to be vaccinated, still in this country as well."
The virus is highly contagious, and transmitted through contaminated food and water. The first symptoms can mimic a common cold.
The WHO Emergency Committee will reassess the situation in three months.
For more information on the current polio concerns, click here.