8 March 2012
Polio Update – World Health Organization removes India from its list of polio endemic countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially removed India from its list of countries considered to be endemic for polio transmission [1, 2]. India has not reported a case of polio since 13 January 2011 (last case reported in West Bengal) and no recent environmental samples have identified wild poliovirus . India has never before achieved this important milestone. In line with WHO standards, India will continue Acute Flaccid Paralysis surveillance, which allows surveillance teams to identify cases of poliomyelitis .
Polio infection remains endemic in three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. As of 29 February 2012, 20 cases of polio have been reported worldwide for 2012: 19 cases in endemic countries and one case in Chad, a non-endemic country .
Current UK recommendations are for travellers to be protected against polio if a country has reported cases within the last three years. As India has not yet been polio-free for three years, the advice for UK travellers to India remains unchanged and polio vaccination is recommended. All visitors to countries with current wild poliovirus transmission or polio cases in the past three years should ensure their primary course of polio vaccination (five doses according to the UK schedule) is complete. A booster dose of polio vaccine, if they have not had one in the previous 10 years, is recommended.
Polio is transmitted via contaminated food and water. Travellers should practise strict food, water and personal hygiene. A history of previous polio infection is not a contraindication to polio vaccination .
Specific recommendations for polio vaccination for each country can be found on the NaTHNaC Country Information Pages.
Further details on the global polio situation can be found on the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and World Health Organization websites. More information on polio can be found on the NaTHNaC Health Information Sheet on polio.
1. Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Polio this week – As of 29 February 2012. 29 February 2012. [Accessed 08 March 2012]. Available at: http://www.polioeradication.org/Dataandmonitoring/
2. Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Three to go...It’s official: India is no longer polio-endemic, leaving just three countries which have never stopped polio. 01 March 2012. [Accessed 08 March 2012]. Available at: http://www.polioeradication.org/tabid/461/iid/201/Default.aspx
3. World Health Organization. WHO –recommended surveillance standard of poliomyelitis. 2012. [Accessed 08 March 2012]. Available at: http://www.who.int/immunization_monitoring/diseases/
4. Contraindications and special considerations. In; Salisbury D, Ramsay M, Noakes K (Eds). Immunisation against infectious disease 2006. The Stationary Office, London. Ch 6. [Accessed 08 March 2012]. Available at: