Poliomyelitis (polio) is a contagious disease spread from person to person or through contaminated food and water which can attack the central nervous system causing muscle paralysis. It is preventable by vaccination.
Polio continues to occur (endemic) in four countries: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
In 2011, in addition to the 4 endemic countries there have been cases reported in Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Niger. All travellers need to get vaccinated if they are going to Polio endemic countries, countries nearby to these, or those countries where recent cases of polio have been reported.
For infants and children under 15 years of age:
Polio is part of the routine vaccine schedule in Australasian countries involving three primary vaccinations in infancy and a fourth pre-school.. If the routine vaccine schedule is not complete before travel, talk to a health care provider about getting the remaining doses before leaving.
For adolescents and adults:
The High School schedule in Australia has not included polio booster since 2001. Thus any traveller to one of the risk areas requires a one-time booster dose before leaving. Current recommendations do not call for more adult booster doses but it would be wise for anyone regularly visiting risk countries to have a further booster after 10 years. If you have not received any vaccines at all against polio get fully vaccinated before travelling.
For up-to-date information on countries reporting polio, visit the website of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (http://www.polioeradication.org)