Polio (Poliomyelitis)
Travel Health

From: Travel Health Information and Advice

Polio (Poliomyelitis)
Polio is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause irreversible paralysis and in some cases can be fatal.

Cause of Polio
The polio virus can be found in the intestinal tract and throat of someone who is infected, the virus is excreted in the feces and enters a non infected person orally usually by contaminated food, drink or surfaces.

Symptoms of Polio
Polio can be asymptomatic in some people while others may suffer from either mild or more serious symptoms:

Polio Vaccine
The best way to help prevent polio is by vaccinating. The vaccination program involves four doses of the vaccine given at 2, 4 and 16 months of age followed by the fourth dose at age 4. Adults should consult their doctor prior to travelling to an endemic area as a booster dose may be given.

Diagnosing of Polio
Diagnosis usually involves assessment of the symptoms, combined with blood tests, cerebrospinal fluid tests, throat secretion test and by testing a stool sample.

Treating Polio
There is no treatment available for the polio virus so supportive care is given. In many cases the use of pain killers and antibiotics can be beneficial, while in severe cases more specialist equipment will be required such as breathing apparatus in order to support the patient if complications have occurred.

Preventing Polio
Preventing Polio can be achieved in a number of ways:

Most At Risk
Young children under the age of 5 years and anyone who has not had a vaccination.

Areas Affected By Polio
Some African and Asian countries are still affected by the virus, such as India, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.