Polio is an infection also known as poliomyelitis. This is a highly infectious viral infection that largely affects children under 5 years of age. Polio can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, or even death.
The last case of naturally occurring polio was in the U.S in 1979. At present, even with a global effort to wipe out polio, it continues to affect children and adults in parts of Asia and Africa. Adults who have been vaccinated planning to travel to a place where polio is happening must have a booster dose of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV).
What Causes Polio?
Polio is caused by a virus called poliovirus. The virus enters the body through the nose or mouth, getting into the respiratory and digestive systems. It reproduces in the intestines and throat. From there, it can enter the bloodstream which can also attack the nervous system. It is the nerve network that helps the brain communicate with the rest of the body.
Signs and Symptoms of Polio
Even though polio can cause paralysis or death, the majority of people who are infected don’t get sick and are not aware that they have been infected.
Some people who develop symptoms contract a type of polio that does not lead to paralysis. This usually causes flu-like symptoms which can last up to 10 days:
This form of the disease is rare. The first signs and symptoms are headache and fever often imitate those of non-paralytic polio. Within a week, you may develop:
This affects several people years after having polio and also a cluster of restricting symptoms. Common signs and symptoms are:
Risk Factors of Having Polio
The following are the listed factors of getting the disease:
Areas affected by the condition:
People who are at risk:
People living in areas with limited access to running water often contract polio from drinking water contaminated by infected human waste. People with a weakened immune system and pregnant women as well as young children are the most susceptible to the poliovirus.
A higher risk of contracting polio if you have not been vaccinated and you also:
Vaccines are the main way to prevent polio. However, other methods of limiting the spread of this infection:
Doctors can only treat the symptoms while the infection runs its course. But since there’s no cure, the best way to treat polio is to prevent it with vaccinations. The most common supportive treatments include:
In advanced cases of leg weakness, you may need a wheelchair or other mobility device.
Medications for Polio