National Poliomyelitis response plan for New Zealand

11 Sep 2014

Sets out the response required in New Zealand to a case of probable and/or confirmed poliomyelitis (polio) caused by a wild-type poliovirus or by a vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV).

Key points

  • Poliovirus is still endemic in a number of countries. Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan have never been declared free of polio, and between January 2013 and May 2014 wild poliovirus was re-introduced into a number of countries, including Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Africa, Iraq, Israel, Kenya, Syrian Arab Republic and Somalia.
  • From January to May 2014, there was international spread of wild poliovirus in central Asia (from Pakistan to Afghanistan), in the Middle East (Syrian Arab Republic to Iraq) and in Central Africa (Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea). As part of the declaration of polio as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2014, Cameroon, Pakistan and the Syrian Arab Republic were identified as being at the greatest risk of exporting cases.
  • New Zealand has been declared polio free, with the last case occurring in 1977.
  • In New Zealand, 93 percent of children under one year of age are fully immunised.
  • As part of the WHO initiative to eradicate polio, New Zealand has a programme of surveillance and investigation of all cases of acute flaccid paralysis in children under the age of 15.
  • Polio is caused by wild poliovirus types 1, 2 and 3, or by live vaccine-derived poliovirus.
  • The polio virus is passed person to person, with a usual incubation period of 7–14 days.
  •  All people suspected of suffering from polio should be notified immediately to the local medical officer of health and appropriately investigated.
  • Laboratory investigations should be discussed with the local virologist/microbiologist, who will liaise with the WHO-accredited National Poliovirus Reference Laboratory at ESR.1
  • The risk level of contacts should be considered and appropriate investigations undertaken.
  • A single case of polio will not necessarily require extensive community vaccination.


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