Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a viral infectious polio disease caused by the poliovirus. Poliovirus is primarily transmitted through the fecal-oral route, meaning it spreads through contaminated food, water, or surfaces. It can also be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person’s saliva or feces.
There are three types of poliovirus: wild poliovirus type 1, type 2, and type 3. Wild poliovirus type 2 was declared eradicated in 2015, and wild poliovirus type 3 has not been detected since 2012. Currently, wild poliovirus type 1 remains the only circulating type.
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Causes and Consequences of Polio
Polio disease, also known as poliomyelitis, is a highly contagious viral disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus primarily affects the nervous system and can lead to various symptoms and complications. Here are some of the main effects and consequences of polio:
Asymptomatic Infection: In many cases, poliovirus infection does not cause any symptoms and goes unnoticed. This is referred to as asymptomatic infection. However, even in asymptomatic cases, individuals can still transmit the virus to others.
Minor Illness: Some people infected with poliovirus may experience minor symptoms, similar to a common cold or flu. These symptoms can include fever, sore throat, headache, fatigue, nausea, and muscle stiffness or pain. These mild symptoms typically resolve within a few days to a week.
Non-paralytic Polio: In a small percentage of cases, poliovirus can invade the central nervous system without causing paralysis. This condition is known as non-paralytic or abortive polio. Individuals with non-paralytic polio may experience more severe symptoms, including fever, headache, stiff neck, muscle pain, and fatigue. These symptoms can last for a few days to weeks but generally do not result in long-term paralysis.
Paralytic Polio: Paralytic polio is the most severe form of the disease. In a small proportion of infected individuals, the poliovirus attacks and damages motor neurons in the spinal cord and brainstem, leading to muscle weakness, paralysis, and potential lifelong disability. Paralysis can affect one or more limbs (monoplegia, paraplegia, quadriplegia) and can even involve the muscles required for breathing and swallowing, which can be life-threatening.
Post-Polio Syndrome: In some individuals who have recovered from the initial polio infection and experienced paralysis, post-polio syndrome may develop years or decades later. Post-polio syndrome is characterized by the gradual onset of new muscle weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and other symptoms. It is believed to occur due to the degeneration of nerve cells that were previously damaged by the poliovirus.
It is worth noting that polio can be prevented through vaccination. Vaccination efforts, such as the oral polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), have significantly reduced the incidence of polio worldwide.
Polio disease Prevention
Prevention of polio disease primarily involves vaccination and adopting good hygiene practices to reduce the risk of poliovirus transmission. Here are some key measures for polio prevention:
- Vaccination: Immunization is the most effective way to prevent polio. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends routine vaccination with the oral polio vaccine (OPV) or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) as part of national immunization programs. These vaccines provide immunity against poliovirus and significantly reduce the risk of infection and transmission.
- Routine Vaccination: Ensure that infants and children receive all recommended doses of the polio vaccine as per the vaccination schedule in your country. This typically involves multiple doses starting in early infancy and booster doses in later years.
- Polio Vaccination Campaigns: Participate in national and regional polio vaccination campaigns. These campaigns are often organized to reach every child in a specific area, ensuring high vaccination coverage and helping to interrupt poliovirus transmission.
- Hygiene and Sanitation: Practicing good hygiene can help reduce the risk of poliovirus transmission. This includes:
- Regularly washing hands with soap and clean water, especially after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before handling food.
- Ensuring access to safe and clean drinking water sources.
- Properly disposing of waste, including human feces, in a sanitary manner.
- Promoting and maintaining clean and hygienic environments, particularly in communities, schools, and healthcare facilities.
- Travel Precautions: If you are traveling to an area with a higher risk of polio, especially where polio is still endemic or where outbreaks have occurred, consider the following:
- Ensure you and your family members are up-to-date on polio vaccination before traveling.
- Follow good hygiene practices, including handwashing and safe food and water precautions.
- Be aware of any travel advisories or recommendations issued by health authorities.
Remember, maintaining high vaccination coverage, particularly in areas where polio still exists, is crucial for global polio eradication efforts. Stay informed about the recommended vaccination schedules and follow the guidance provided by healthcare professionals and public health authorities in your region.
Polio disease Stages
Polio disease, or poliomyelitis, typically progresses through the following stages:
- Incubation Period: After a person is infected with the poliovirus, there is an incubation period, which is the time between the initial infection and the onset of symptoms. The incubation period for polio is usually 7 to 14 days, but it can range from 3 to 35 days.
- Initial Symptoms (Prodromal Stage): The majority of polio cases (about 90-95%) are asymptomatic, meaning the infected person does not develop any noticeable symptoms. However, in a small percentage of cases, known as symptomatic polio, individuals experience initial symptoms, also called the prodromal stage. These initial symptoms can include:
- Sore throat
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle aches
- Non-Paralytic Polio: In some cases, the initial symptoms may progress to a more severe form of the disease called non-paralytic polio, which occurs in about 1-5% of symptomatic cases. Non-paralytic polio primarily affects the central nervous system, causing symptoms such as:
- Stiff neck and back
- Muscle tenderness and spasm
- Meningitis-like symptoms (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord)
- Pain or stiffness in the limbs
- Paralytic Polio: In a small percentage of cases, the virus invades and damages the motor neurons in the spinal cord and brainstem, leading to paralysis. Paralytic polio can be further divided into three subtypes:
- Spinal Polio: Paralysis mainly affects the muscles supplied by the spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness or paralysis in the limbs. The severity and distribution of paralysis can vary, ranging from a single limb (monoplegia) to both legs (paraplegia) or all four limbs (quadriplegia).
- Bulbar Polio: Paralysis affects the muscles involved in swallowing, breathing, and speaking due to the involvement of the brainstem. Bulbar polio can result in difficulty in breathing, swallowing difficulties, and changes in voice or speech.
- Bulbospinal Polio: This type combines features of both spinal and bulbar polio, involving both the spinal cord and brainstem. It results in a combination of limb weakness or paralysis and respiratory or swallowing difficulties.
- Post-Polio Syndrome: After recovering from acute polio, some individuals may experience a late complication known as post-polio syndrome (PPS). PPS can occur years or decades after the initial infection and is characterized by new muscle weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and other symptoms. The exact cause of PPS is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the degeneration of previously affected nerve cells.
It’s important to note that not all individuals progress through all these stages. Many polio infections are asymptomatic or result in only mild symptoms. Prompt medical attention, proper management, and rehabilitation can help individuals recover from paralytic polio and manage post-polio syndrome effectively.
Effect of Polio disease on Children
Polio disease is not inherently more common in newborns; in fact, polio incidence is relatively low in newborns. Polio primarily affects children under the age of five. However, newborns can be susceptible to poliovirus infection if they have not received adequate immunity through vaccination.
There are a few reasons why newborns may be at risk of polio infection:
- Maternal Immunity: Newborns receive some level of protection against polio through maternal antibodies passed on from the mother during pregnancy. However, this protection wanes over time, and infants become more susceptible to poliovirus infection as the maternal antibodies decline.
- Lack of Vaccination: Newborns have not yet received their routine vaccinations, including the polio vaccine. The first dose of the polio vaccine is typically administered at 2 months of age, followed by subsequent doses in the vaccine schedule. Until they receive vaccination, newborns are vulnerable to poliovirus if exposed.
- Immature Immune System: The immune system of newborns is still developing and may not be as efficient in mounting a strong immune response to the poliovirus. This can make them more susceptible to infection and potentially more severe disease outcomes if infected.
To protect newborns from polio disease , it is important to ensure that pregnant women receive appropriate prenatal care and vaccinations to maximize maternal immunity transfer. Additionally, adherence to national immunization schedules is crucial to provide newborns with timely polio vaccination as part of routine immunization programs.
It is worth noting that globally, extensive vaccination efforts, including routine immunization and large-scale polio eradication campaigns, have significantly reduced the incidence of polio in newborns and young children.
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What is the main cause of polio?
Polio is caused by the poliovirus. It mainly targets nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain stem that control muscle movement which further leads to malnourishment of our body parts.
What are 5 symptoms of polio?
The first signs and symptoms include fever, exhaustion, headache, nausea, stiff neck, and discomfort in the limbs. One infection out of every 200 causes permanent paralysis, typically in the legs. 5-10% of persons who are disabled pass away when their breathing muscles are paralyzed. Most victims of polio are youngsters under the age of five.
Where is polio disease?
Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a viral infectious polio disease caused by the poliovirus. Poliovirus is primarily transmitted through the fecal-oral route, meaning it spreads through contaminated food, water, or surfaces. I
Is polio a common disease?
Symptomatic polio is rare in many parts of the world, thanks to worldwide vaccination programs
Who is at risk of polio?
Anyone who is not fully vaccinated against polio is at risk for polio. However, there are some situations that put people at increased risk for exposure to polio such as: Travelers who have recently visited polio endemic countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan).
How can we prevent polio?
Polio vaccine protects children by preparing their bodies to fight the poliovirus. Almost all children who get all the recommended doses of the inactivated polio vaccine will be protected from polio
How long does polio last?
People who have milder polio symptoms usually make a full recovery within 1–2 weeks. People whose symptoms are more severe can be weak or paralyzed for life, and some may die.