- 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
- 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
- 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 12/8/2014