What is it?
Polio is a potentially life threatening acute viral infection which is highly contagious and may lead to permanent nerve damage causing paralysis of limbs and respiratory muscles.
Countries at risk…
Countries at risk Polio has been largely wiped out over the last century since the introduction of routine polio vaccination. The disease is still however widespread throughout Central Africa and is also present in Asia, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Our recommended vaccines for the most common travel destinations outside of Europe includes Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) vaccines. For travellers who are visiting the developing world on a regular basis or for prolonged periods of time, we would recommend considering hepatitis B vaccine. Cholera is worth considering for travellers visiting rural areas of developing countries. The vaccine against cholera (Dukoral) also reduces the risk of the most common form of traveller’s diarrhoea caused by E coli. Dukoral is an oral vaccine given in two doses one week apart.
Polio is largely caused by poor sanitation and poor hygiene and it is therefore vital to keep up good hygiene and hand sanitation. Only drink from a sealed water bottle or boiled water. Avoid ice and salad that has been washed with tap water. Only eat fruit that can be peeled and avoid uncooked food. Ensure that food is freshly cooked and piping hot.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of polio do not typically appear for 20 days but include fever, headaches, vomiting and fatigue. In rare cases the sufferer can be permanently paralysed which may then lead to breathing muscles becoming immobilised and thereby causing death.
The childhood vaccination programmes include a vaccine against Diphtheria, Tetanus & Polio. Once the childhood course is completed travellers need a booster every 10 years when planning on travel to higher risk areas. The countries at a higher risk of polio (e.g. Pakistan) may ask to see proof of a vaccination if an endemic of the disease while you plan to travel there.
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