What is Polio?
Polio (also known as poliomyelitis) is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. This virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing immobility. Children younger than 5 years old are more likely to contract the virus than any other group.
Causes & Transmission of Polio
Polio is caused by the poliovirus. The virus usually enters the environment in the feces of someone who is infected. In areas with poor sanitation, the virus easily spreads from feces into the water supply, or, by touch, into food. In addition, because polio is so contagious, direct contact with a person infected with the virus can cause polio. Once the virus has entered an individual, it infects the cells of the throat and intestine. The virus stays within the intestines, rapidly dividing for a week, before spreading to other areas of the body. Eventually, the virus moves into the bloodstream where it can spread to the entire body. Once the virus has spread in can cause paralysis, breathing problems or in some cases death.
Symptoms Non-paralytic polio
- sore throat
Symptoms of Paralytic polio
- loss of reflexes
- severe spasms and muscle pain
- loose and floppy limbs, sometimes on just one side of the body
- sudden paralysis, temporary or permanent
- deformed limbs, especially the hips, ankles, and feet
What Can Your Doctor Do To Help?
Your doctor can refer you to many specialists and or offer a vaccination for polio.
Prevention & Treatments
- bed rest
- antispasmodic drugs to relax muscles
- antibiotics for urinary tract infections
- portable ventilators to help with breathing
- physical therapy or corrective braces to help with walking
- heating pads or warm towels to ease muscle aches and spasms
- physical therapy to treat pain in the affected muscles
- physical therapy to address breathing and pulmonary problems
- pulmonary rehabilitation to increase lung endurance
- The best way to prevent polio is to get the vaccination. Children should get polio shots according to the vaccination schedule presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).