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Polio facts

  • Polio is an infectious disease caused by viruses. The symptoms may range from none to paralysis and death.
  • Polio has been traced back almost 6,000 years. Great strides have been made in preventing this disease.
  • Polio is caused by person-to-person transmission of polio viruses (enteroviruses, three main types).
  • Not receiving the polio vaccine is the highest risk factor for getting infected with poliovirus. The viruses are only spread human to human by direct and indirect contact.
  • Symptoms and signs of polio vary from no symptoms to limb deformities, paralysis, and death.
  • Diagnosis of polio is based on the patient's history, physical exam, and ongoing symptoms. The virus may be isolated from the patient's tissues to confirm the diagnosis.
  • There is no cure for polio; treatment is mainly supportive and is aimed at limiting or reducing the patient's symptoms.
  • For most patients, the prognosis is good because there are few or no symptoms; however, the prognosis declines rapidly as some patients develop more severe symptoms such as limb deformity, paralysis, difficulty breathing, and/or inability to swallow foods.
  • It is possible to prevent polio by vaccination; it may be possible to eradicate polio.
  • There are at least two types of polio vaccine (intramuscular injection or oral attenuated live vaccine), and both types are effective in preventing polio.
  • A polio-like illness has recently been discovered in California in children that produces paralysis like that seen in some polio patients. This illness is not polio, according to doctors treating the children.

What is polio?

Polio is in infectious disease that is caused by viruses that may result in a wide range of symptoms in patients. Other terms for polio include poliomyelitis and infantile paralysis. Symptoms can range from a non-paralytic flu-like infection to total paralysis that can occur within a few hours.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/17/2016


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