What is Polio?
Polio (poliomyelitis) is a contagious disease that can be prevented by vaccination. It is caused by the poliovirus type 1, 2 or 3.
Polio can attach the central nervous system and destroy the nerve cells that activate muscles, which may cause paralysis and death. It mainly affects children under 5; however, infection and paralysis may occur in individuals of any age who are not immune.
How is it transmitted?
Polio is spread mainly through fecal-oral transmission. For example, by eating food or drinking water contaminated through poor personal hygiene, poor sanitation or poor control of sewage.
What are the symptoms?
Most people have no symptoms when they are infected.
Symptoms can take 3 to 35 days to appear.
Some people develop mild symptoms including fever, fatigue, sore throat, stiffness in the neck, muscle aches and pains, headache, nausea and vomiting.
In more sever cases, the disease affects the spinal cord or brain, causing paralysis, and sometimes death.
Can polio be treated?
There is no cure for polio, only treatment to help alleviate the symptoms.
Where is Polio a concern?
Polio has not been eliminated in three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
Countries can also be affected by polio outbreaks if the polio virus has been imported from the above three countries or those where the virus has been detected.
All travellers should be vaccinated if they are going to:
Countries where polio has not been eliminated.
Countries with recently imported cases of polio where the virus has been detected.
Countries close to those where polio has not been eliminated or those where the virus has been detected.
Source: © All Rights Reserved. Travel Health: Polio. Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014. Reproduced with permission from the Minister of Health, 2014.