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Polio in Cameroon

Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Nearby Polio Outbreaks:

What is the current situation?

According to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, as of August 11, 2014, 5 cases of polio have been reported in Cameroon for 2014. There were also 4 cases reported in 2013. This outbreak of polio is the first reported in Cameroon since 2009.

CDC recommends that all travelers to Cameroon be fully vaccinated against polio. In addition, adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine. As of May 5, 2014, people of all ages staying in Cameroon for longer than 4 weeks may be required to show proof of polio vaccination when departing Cameroon. Polio vaccine must be received between 4 weeks and 12 months before the date of departure from Cameroon and should be officially documented on a yellow vaccination card (International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis). Travelers should talk to their doctor about making sure they are properly prepared for any requirements they may face exiting Cameroon.

Because of the risk of cross-border transmission, CDC recommends a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine for fully vaccinated adults who are traveling to Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Republic of Congo, and Gabon to work in health care facilities, refugee camps, or other humanitarian aid settings. This kind of work might put people in contact with someone who has polio.

For travelers to the bordering country of Nigeria, where polio remains endemic, CDC also recommends that all adults receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine.

What is polio?

Polio is a disease caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and is mainly spread by person-to-person contact. Polio can also be spread by drinking water or other drinks or eating raw or undercooked food that are contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

Most people with polio do not feel sick. Some people have only minor symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the arms and legs. Most people recover completely. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function in the arms or legs (usually the legs) or if there is loss of function of the muscles used for breathing or infection of the brain, death can occur.

New: Documenting Polio Vaccine

When you get the polio vaccine, you should be given a yellow card called the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) that states when you were vaccinated.

What can travelers do to prevent polio?

  • Get the polio vaccine:
    • Ask your doctor or nurse to find out if you are up-to-date with your polio vaccination and whether you need a booster dose before traveling. Even if you were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with polio before, you may need a booster dose to make sure that you are protected. See individual destination pages for vaccine recommendation information.
    • Make sure children are vaccinated.
    • See Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) for more information.
  • Eat safe foods and drink safe beverages: Follow the Food and Water Safety tips to avoid exposure to any food and drinks that could be contaminated with the feces of a person infected with polio.
  • Practice hygiene and cleanliness:
    • Wash your hands often.
    • If soap and water aren’t available, clean hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
    • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
    • Try to avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people who are sick.

Traveler Information

Clinician Information

All travelers to any country should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations, including polio vaccine. CDC recommends a single lifetime inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) booster dose for travelers to certain countries. See the Vaccine section in Chapter 3, Poliomyelitis, CDC Health Information for International Travel, for specific vaccination details.

See our Clinical Updates for more guidance on polio vaccination to polio-infected countries:

Additional Information