The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Polio in Nigeria

Updated November 17, 2015

What is the current situation?

The latest wild poliovirus case in Nigeria occurred on July 24, 2014. Because more than a year has passed since this case occurred, the World Health Organization has removed Nigeria from the list of polio-endemic countries; only Afghanistan and Pakistan remain. According to Global Polio Eradication Initiative, one vaccine-derived poliovirus case was identified in Nigeria in May 2015. Vaccine-derived poliovirus can circulate in areas with low coverage of oral polio vaccine (OPV).

CDC recommends that all travelers to Nigeria( be fully vaccinated against polio. In addition, adults who have been fully vaccinated should receive a single lifetime booster dose of polio vaccine. (Inactivated polio vaccine [IPV] is used in the United States instead of OPV. IPV does not contain live virus, so it cannot cause vaccine-derived polio.)

What is polio?

Polio is a disease caused by a virus that affects the nervous system, and is mainly spread by person-to-person contact. Polio can also be spread by drinking water or other drinks or eating raw or undercooked food that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person.

Most people with polio do not feel sick. Some people have only minor symptoms, such as fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the arms and legs. Most people recover completely. In rare cases, polio infection causes permanent loss of muscle function in the arms or legs (usually the legs); if there is loss of function of the muscles used for breathing or an infection of the brain, death can occur.

What can travelers do to prevent polio?

  • Get the polio vaccine:
  • Eat foods and drink beverages that are considered safe: Follow the Food and Water Safety( tips to avoid eating or drinking things that could be contaminated with polio.
  • Practice hygiene and cleanliness:
    • Wash your hands often.
    • If soap and water aren’t available, clean hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
    • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
    • Try to avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people who are sick.

Traveler Information

Clinician Information

All travelers to any country should be up-to-date on routine vaccinations, including polio vaccine. CDC recommends a single lifetime IPV booster dose for travelers to certain countries. See the Vaccine( section in Chapter 3, Poliomyelitis(, CDC Health Information for International Travel, for specific vaccination details.

Additional Information