Polio on the move, GPs warned

The number of polio infections worldwide has dropped since a global eradication program began in 1988. In recent months, however, the disease has spread from the endemic countries of Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Syria and the Horn of Africa.

The chair of the Australian National Polio Certification Committee, Professor David Durrheim, said that even countries declared polio-free for many years need to be aware that the disease is still contractable.

“It is important that GPs, paediatricians and emergency physicians who get an acute onset of floppy paralysis consider polio and send a stool sample for testing,” he said.

“People who travel overseas from Australia should also make sure their vaccinations are up to date and that they are protected from polio and measles. Polio is a very effective vaccine but anyone in affected areas or places with poor hygiene may need several doses.”

While the focus of