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Measures to combat polio

Wild poliovirus was detected in Israel from February 2013 and in the north of Syria at the end of October 2013. At RIVM’s advice, precautionary measures were taken to reduce (the effect of) import of the poliovirus from the Middle East. Dutch travellers to Israel and refugees from Syria could possibly carry the polio virus and introduce it to the non-vaccinated community in The Netherlands.


Since February 2013 wild poliovirus was found in Israel at several locations in sewage water. Moreover, wild poliovirus was also found in the faeces of over forty vaccinated children. However, no cases of poliomyelitis have occurred in Israel. RIVM advised all Dutch travellers to Israel to be vaccinated if they had not already been vaccinated or if they had been vaccinated more than ten years ago. RIVM also advised visitors to pay attention to good hygiene during their journey (including good hand-washing).


At the end of October 2013 an outbreak of polio was detected in eastern Syria. Syrian refugees could possibly carry the wild poliovirus and introduce it into the Netherlands. Young children represented the greatest risk as they had not been vaccinated (properly) since the start of the war. RIVM therefore recommended that all Syrian refugees under five years of age be vaccinated upon arrival in The Netherlands. In addition, the sewage water was examined for the presence of poliovirus in Ter Apel, the town where the refugees enter The Netherlands. The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers was advised that for Syrian refugees a reception centre should be chosen in municipalities with a high level of protection against polio.