Polio is a nationally notifiable disease in all provinces and territories, with cases reported to provincial/territorial departments of health. As such, a national case definition for polio has been developed.
- Canadian Notifiable Disease Surveillance System: Contains basic epidemiologic data on polio since 1924. Data is available online
The last case of indigenous wild paralytic poliomyelitis in Canada occurred in 1977 and Canada was certified polio-free in 1994. However, as long as polio continues to circulate globally, Canada is at risk for an importation of the disease from infected countries.
To ensure that there continues to be no polio in Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada conducts routine surveillance of one of the characteristics of polio, acute flaccid paralysis (AFP). AFP involves the acute onset of paralysis in one or more limbs and can occur for a number of different reasons such as neurological conditions or botulism.
Like polio, AFP is also nationally notifiable and a national case definition for AFP has been developed. However, not all provinces and territories include AFP in their provincial/territorial notifiable disease lists. For this reason, the Agency, in collaboration with the Canadian Paediatric Society, conducts enhanced surveillance of AFP in children less than 15 years of age. By actively seeking out cases of AFP in Canada and ruling out the presence of polio, Canada is able to provide ongoing evidence that we remain polio free.
Since 1996, between 27 and 64 AFP cases in children less than 15 years of age have been reported each year. None were attributed to polio. Data on cases of AFP are collected from the following surveillance programs, managed by the Canadian Paediatric Society:
- Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program (CPSP): A surveillance network that gathers data from over 2,500 paediatrician and paediatric subspecialists each month to monitor rare diseases and outcomes in Canadian Children.
- IMPACT (Immunization Monitoring Program, ACTive): A paediatric hospital-based active surveillance network for adverse events following immunization, vaccine failures and selected infectious diseases that are, or will be, vaccine preventable.
AFP surveillance results are published annually in the CPSP Results publications and are also reported to the Polio Global Eradication Initiative at the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) on a weekly basis.
Case Definitions for Diseases under national surveillance: Polio and AFP
- Case Definitions for Diseases under National Surveillance, 2009
- Case Definitions for Diseases under National Surveillance, 2000
Health care professionals in Canada have a critical role to play in identifying potential cases of polio. For more information on poliomyelitis epidemiology, transmission, prevention and control, refer to the Health Professionals section.
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