Poliomyelitis – known as polio, also “infantile paralysis”

What is poliomyelitis?

Poliomyelitis is caused by the polio virus. The virus is highly contagious. It is transmitted via contact with saliva or faeces. In the majority of cases, there are no symptoms. Some people react with gastroenteritis, a fever, sore throat or a headache. In around 1 in 200 cases, this can however cause damage to the central nervous which leads to paralysis. If this affects the diaphragm, it will lead to respiratory arrest. What is known as post-polio syndrome can also cause increasing paralysis and muscular atrophy many years after an infection.

It takes 4 to 10 days from infection for the initial signs of illness to appear. Those affected will excrete the virus through the intestines in 3 to 6 weeks.

There is no treatment for poliomyelitis itself, only relief of symptoms.

Since the launch of polio vaccination in the 1960s, the number of cases has declined considerably. The last case of infantile paralysis in Austria was in 1980, with the WHO declaring Europe polio-free in 2002. However, polymyelitis can still be found in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Africa (Nigeria, Niger, Congo, Somalia) and in Papua New Guinea. Further cases of the illness are being reported again and again in other African and Asian countries. If the virus is reintroduced to a country, it can spread again unless there is protection through vaccination.

Vaccination advice for children

The polio vaccination is part of the free child vaccination programme in Austria. It is part of a six-part vaccination with diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, haemophilus influenzae and hepatitis B.

Vaccination schedule

First vaccination: At 3 months Second vaccination: At 5 months
Third vaccination: At 12 – 14 months
Fourth vaccination*: At 7 – 9 years old
*as a 4-part vaccination with diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis

Vaccination advice for adults

There is a single vaccine and combination vaccine for the booster vaccination, which also provides protection against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.

Booster vaccinations:
• Every 10 years (those under 60)
• Every 5 years (those over 60)

In the absence of basic immunisation: 2 vaccinations with an interval of 1 to 2 months, third vaccination 6-12 months after the second vaccination.

The level of protection provided by the vaccination is 100 %.

Information and consultancy service

Not yet vaccinated against poliomyelitis? Or not been vaccinated in a long time? Having trouble finding your vaccination pass?

We would be happy to help you decide which vaccinations are best for you!
Book an appointment online or make an appointment on the phone with the City of Vienna vaccination service: Tel. +43 1 – 1450