16 Poliomyelitis

16.8 Public health measures

It is a legal requirement that all suspected cases of poliomyelitis be notified immediately on suspicion to the local medical officer of health.

Collect two faecal specimens 24 hours apart, 0 to 14 days after the onset of paralysis and send to the national poliovirus reference laboratory at the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR). Contact the polio reference laboratory for specific advice on the specimens required, and on packing and transporting the specimens (see also the Single human source specimen form, available at the ESR website:

Cases of AFP must be investigated as suspected poliomyelitis. All clinicians caring for any person aged under 15 years with AFP must notify the case to the local medical officer of health and report the case to the New Zealand Paediatric Surveillance Unit (NZPSU). If in a hospital, all cases of AFP should also be discussed with a local microbiologist and infection control service.

Case investigation and surveillance for AFP will continue in New Zealand to monitor the successful eradication of polio.8 The NZPSU is based at the University of Otago and is responsible for sending case investigation and follow-up forms to clinicians to continue to monitor that New Zealand has eradicated polio and to provide information to the WHO.

Any case of poliomyelitis in New Zealand constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and the Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health should be contacted urgently. The National Poliomyelitis Response Plan for New Zealand outlines the actual response and is published on the Ministry of Health website (

Although polio has been eradicated in the WHO Western Pacific Region, New Zealand will need to continue with high levels of IPV coverage. This is because of the small risk that polio may be imported from another region where polio remains endemic (see section 16.3).

For more details on control measures, refer to the Communicable Disease Control Manual 20129 or the Control of Communicable Diseases Manual.10