Government warns of polio in Pakistan

Anyone traveling to Pakistan should get a new polio vaccine booster at least four weeks before they travel, Cayman public health officials advise. 

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar said in a statement released Monday that he was prompted to issue a public warning by a recent finding from the World Health Organization that in recent months, three cases of the virus have been exported from Pakistan to Afghanistan. 

Most of the Cayman population is vaccinated against polio, he said, adding that travel from Pakistan to the Cayman Islands and vice versa is “very limited.” 

Polio is a highly infectious virus that has been all but eliminated around the world thanks to vaccination programs. The virus primarily attacks young children through fecal and oral contact or contaminated food and water. Polio is most notorious for causing severe, crippling paralysis. 

Dr. Kumar said immunization for children in Cayman is 95 percent at infancy and 99 percent when they enter school.  

Cayman has not had a case of polio since 1957, according to Dr. Kumar. The United States has not had a documented case of polio since 1979.  

In addition to Pakistan, polio is still found in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Syrian, Somalia, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iran, Israel and Nigeria.