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What is Poliomyelitis?

Medikoe Wellness Expert

Medikoe Wellness Expert

  80 feet road indira nagar, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   3 min     


Introduction of poliomyelitis

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease. Poliomyelitis or Polio is a highly infectious viral disease which attacks the nervous system usually resulting in permanent paralysis. It mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the fecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated food or water) Polio has no cure yet, but it can be very well prevented. Children under the age of five and newborn babies are the most vulnerable victims of polio which results in a drastically hampered future. Major outbreaks started to occur in the late 19th century in Europe and the United States. In the 20th century, it became one of the most worrying childhood diseases in these areas. The World Health Organisation (WHO) aim is to eradicate polio completely and, if this happens, it will be only the third disease to have been beaten in this way, after smallpox and rinderpest. 

The virus that causes polio dwells in the throat or intestinal tract of humans and thrives in poor sanitary conditions. People with weak immunity and people who haven’t been immunized when exposed to an infected person or contaminated areas are most likely to be affected by the poliovirus. Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization. Between 25 percent and 50 percent of individuals who have recovered from paralytic polio in childhood can develop additional symptoms decades after recovering from the acute infection, notably new muscle weakness and extreme fatigue. This is known as post-polio syndrome

Poliomyelitis Causes- Poliomyelitis is caused by the poliovirus. This group of viruses colonizes the gastrointestinal tract specifically the oropharynx and the intestine. Individuals who are exposed to the virus, either through infection or by immunization with the polio vaccine, develop immunity.Poliomyelitis Symptoms- Although polio can cause paralysis and death, the majority of people who are infected with the virus don't get sick and aren't aware they've been infected. However, most people with polio do not display any symptoms or become noticeably sick. When symptoms do appear, they differ depending on the type of polio. Symptomatic polio can be broken down further into a mild form, called non-paralytic or abortive polio, and a severe form called paralytic poliomyelitis that occurs in around 1 percent of cases. 

Some features of paralytic polio are:

  • A loss of muscle reflexes

  • Severe muscle pain and spasms

  • Loose or floppy limbs that are often worse on one side of the body

Some features of non-paralytic polio are: 

Prevention of poliomyelitis- The disease is preventable with the poliovirus vaccine; however, multiple doses are required for it to be effective. The most effective way to prevent polio is vaccination. The two types of widely used vaccine for protection against polio are-

  • IPV – Inactivated Polio-virus vaccine injection

  • OPV -Oral Polio-virus vaccine drops.

(IPV) Most children in the United States receive four doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine at the following ages:

  • Two months

  • Four months

  • Between 6 and 18 months

  • Between ages 4 and 6 when children are just entering school

IPV is safe for people with weakened immune systems, although it's not certain just how protective the vaccine is in cases of severe immune deficiency. Common side effects are pain and redness at the injection site.

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