What is Polio and How does it Spread?

Polio is a potentially deadly, life-altering disease caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and attacks the brain and spinal cord, often making the patient paralyzed. Mainly spread by person-to-person contact by eating raw or undercooked food or drinking water or other drinks that are contaminated with the faeces of an infected person.

What is Polio Vaccine and Why should Travellers get the vaccine?

The Polio vaccination protects individuals from the Polio virus. There are two variants in circulation: injectable and oral. Oral vaccination is used throughout most of the developing world. Canada uses an injectable polio vaccine to prevent any accidental outbreaks.

Who Should get Polio Vaccine?

All children should receive the Polio vaccine. They should receive one dose at two months, four months, six to 18 months and four to six-years-old. Travellers going to certain parts of Africa and Asia may be at risk of polio. A one-time adult Polio vaccine booster dose is recommended for previously vaccinated travellers to certain countries. Even though some people are vaccinated in their childhood, they should still need to get a booster dose. People who handle specimens of Poliovirus, health care workers who may come in contact with infected people should get vaccinated.

Polio Symptoms

Most people with Polio do not feel sick. Some people have only minor symptoms such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, coughing, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the arms and legs.

Typical symptoms:

  1. Sore Throat
  2. Fever
  3. Fatigue
  4. Nausea or Stomach pain
  5. Headache

Serious Symptoms

  1. Paresthesia (feeling of pins and needles in legs)
  2. Meningitis
  3. Paralysis
  4. Brain or Spinal issues
  5. Permanent disability or death

What can travellers do to Prevent the Disease?


  1. Get Polio Vaccinated.
  2. Eat safe food and drinks/ safe beverages.
  3. Practice hygiene and cleanliness.
  4. Wash your hands often, using soap or sanitizer (Containing at least 60% alcohol.).
  5. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
  6. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  7. Avoid close contact with other people such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils and cups.