Polio (DTP) Vaccination
- Low risk
- Moderate risk
- High risk
Polio is a viral disease that is spread mainly through person to person contact in areas where sanitation and personal hygiene are poor or when infected people cough and breathe on other people. Polio virus spreads through the bloodstream to the brain and spine. Symptoms of polio can range from fever and meningitis and can lead to temporary or permanent paralysis in affected individuals.
Where is polio found?
High risk areas include South Asia and Africa, specifically Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia and Congo. However, the disease can be spread to individuals in other countries who are not protected against the disease and outbreaks do occur.
Patients with non-paralytic polio experience mild, flu-like symptoms such as headache or a sore throat. Other symptoms that develop can last from a couple of days to a week and include high temperature (fever), vomiting, fatigue, abnormal reflexes, aching or painful limbs (particularly in the neck and back) and muscle spasms.
Patients with paralytic polio first experience symptoms of non-paralytic polio. Following this, the following symptoms appear:
- Loss of reflexes
- Severe muscle pain and spasms
- Sudden weakness and floppy limbs, sometimes on one side only
- Sudden paralysis
Full and permanent paralysis can occur, but it is rare.
You can prevent getting polio by following basic personal hygiene etiquette when coughing and sneezing. Avoiding overcrowded areas such as busy markets, local transport and public facilities including swimming pools may also reduce risk of exposure but may not always be practical.
Revaxis is the vaccine which helps to protect against diphtheria, tetanus and polio and has been available since 1941. It is advised for people travelling to high risk places where polio may occur. At Cosmopolitan Medical Clinic, our doctor or nurse will advise if you should consider having this vaccine. Women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss their itinerary and risk profile with our travel nurse.
There is no specific treatment for polio, although intensive care treatment may be required in those who develop paralysis.
Children usually receive this vaccine as part of the national schedule which is a course of 5 doses. Adults and teenagers can be vaccinated via a course of one injection of the combined diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine.
Travellers should ensure that they have had a primary vaccination course and receive a booster every 10 years if they are travelling to an area where diphtheria, tetanus or polio are considered high risk.