Cases of polio have been reported in China, the country’s first reported cases in over 10 years. All cases were reported in Hotan prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. As a result of this outbreak, travellers to all parts of China are advised to be up-to-date on the polio vaccine. Polio is spread by ingesting items contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Poliovirus can also be spread through oral fluids, water, and uncooked food. The disease mainly affects children less than 5 years old, but unvaccinated people of any age are at risk. Signs and symptoms of severe illness may include paralysis of limbs and respiratory muscles; however, most infected people have no symptoms. Travelers should take the following steps to protect themselves from polio:
Get vaccinated for polio
•Visit your GP before travelling doctor to find out if your polio vaccination is up to date of if you need a booster dose before traveling.
•Even if you were vaccinated as a child or have been sick with polio before, a booster shot may be recommended. If you are travelling with children, they should also be vaccinated.
Follow safe food and water practices
•Eat foods that are cooked thoroughly and served hot
•Only eat and drink dairy products that have been pasteurised
•Only consume fruits and vegetables that you can wash with safe water and peel yourself
•Only consume bottled or boiled water or beverages that have been bottled and sealed (carbonated drinks or sports drinks). Avoid tap water and ice.
Practice good hand hygiene
•Wash hands often with soap and water. In the event that soap and water are not available, you should carry an alcohol-based hand gel and use it regularly
•Wash hands thoroughly especially before eating, drinking or preparing food and after using the bathroom, changing babies, coughing or sneezing.
Source, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.