Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Polio in Somalia

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

What is polio?

Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly disease that affects the nervous system. It is spread through contact with the feces (poop) of an infected person. It is also spread by drinking water or eating food that is contaminated with infected feces.

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. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function (paralysis). Polio can be fatal if there is loss of function of the muscles used for breathing or an infection of the brain.

Key points

  • There is an outbreak of polio in Somalia.
  • CDC recommends that all travelers to Somalia be fully vaccinated against polio.
  • Long-term travelers to Somalia (staying more than 4 weeks) may be required to show proof of polio vaccination.
  • Adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine before travel.
  • The outbreak in Papua New Guinea is due to circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV), a marker of poor oral polio vaccine (OPV) coverage.

What is the current situation?

An outbreak of polio has been reported in Mogadishu and the Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions of Somalia.

The outbreak in Somalia is due to circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV), a marker of poor coverage of the oral polio vaccine (OPV). A vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) is a strain of the weakened poliovirus that was initially included in oral polio vaccine (OPV); because it has passed from child to child so many times, it has changed over time and behaves more like the wild or naturally occurring virus. This means it can be spread more easily to people who are unvaccinated against polio and who come in contact with the stool or respiratory secretions, such as from a sneeze, of an infected person. These viruses may cause illness, including paralysis.

What can travelers do to prevent polio?

  • Get the polio vaccine: CDC recommends that all travelers to Somalia be fully vaccinated against polio. In addition, adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of 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.
    • Make sure children are vaccinated.
    • See the Polio Vaccine Information Statement for more information.

If you will be in Somalia for more than 4 weeks, the government of Somalia may require you to show proof of polio vaccination when you are leaving the country. To meet this requirement, you should get the polio vaccine between 4 weeks and 12 months before you leave Somalia. Talk to your doctor about whether this requirement applies to you.

Clinician Information

CDC recommends a single lifetime inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) booster dose for previously vaccinated travelers to Somalia and other countries with cVDPV outbreaks. See the Vaccine section in Chapter 3, PoliomyelitisCDC Health Information for International Travel, for specific vaccination details.

Additional Information

Traveler Information

TOP