Polio

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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); 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; the illness is not polio according to doctors treating the children.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/4/2014


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