The National Poliomyelitis Response Framework provides a toolkit for how Aotearoa would respond to various scenarios in which there was detection of polio, including a polio outbreak, in New Zealand.
The framework was a response to the increase in polio activity in areas of the world that have previously seen polio eradicated, partly because of global decline in immunisation rates. Te Pou Hauora Tūmatanui – the Public Health Agency, within Manatū Hauora, Te Whatu Ora – the National Public Health Service, Te Aka Whai Ora, ESR and Whaikaha were all involved in its development.
Aotearoa New Zealand continues to be polio-free and remains committed to preventing polio circulating in Aotearoa.
The framework considers four scenarios:
- detection of poliovirus through wastewater surveillance
- detection of poliovirus in an acute flaccid paralysis case, which is essentially rapid weakening of a person’s muscles
- identification of a contact of known polio case overseas
- exposure to poliovirus in a lab facility.
Options for responding to an outbreak or heightened risk include ramping up national and locally targeted immunisation campaigns, particularly in areas of low coverage or high exposure and increasing testing and subsequent case and contact management.
There are also options for enhancing surveillance in response to an outbreak or heightened risk, including further targeted wastewater testing, stool sampling for all people hospitalised with neurological illnesses, and stool sampling healthy children in communities where there is concern about potential transmission.
The framework is one of several measures developed to prepare for a polio outbreak. Others include poliovirus wastewater testing and surveillance of acute flaccid paralysis cases. Te Whatu Ora also provides detailed advice on management of polio to clinicians and health providers via the Communicable Disease Control Manual.