Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Importation of poliomyelitis to industrialised nations between 1975 and 1984: evaluation and conclusions for vaccination recommendations.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 18 July 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:169
  1. D Kubli,
  2. R Steffen,
  3. M Schär
  1. Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Zurich, Switzerland.


    World Health Organisation and public health authority records show that 175 cases of paralytic poliomyelitis were imported to industrialised countries between 1975 and 1984. Detailed case reports were therefore analysed to identify characteristic features associated with acquisition of the infection. Of the 175 cases, 96 (55%) were diagnosed in foreign workers or their families, 47 (27%) in nationals travelling on holiday or business, 11 (6%) in immigrants, and 21 (12%) either in contacts who had not travelled or in unclassified groups. Poliomyelitis principally affected children under 5, but travellers aged 41-65 had the highest case fatality rate. The main serotype isolated was poliovirus type 1. The findings suggest that though fewer than one in every 100,000 travellers may be infected by poliomyelitis, all travellers and all immigrants, refugees, and foreign workers should be given full protection against all three polioviruses by routine vaccination.