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Poliomyelitis (Polio)

What is poliomyelitis (polio)?

Poliomyelitis is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by three types of poliovirus. The poliovirus is a virus most recognized for its destruction to the nervous system, causing paralysis. The majority of individuals who are infected with polio, however, have no symptoms and a few have mild symptoms. Of those persons who do acquire the infection, 1 percent or fewer may develop paralytic disease. Since the introduction of the polio vaccine in 1955, infections from the poliovirus have nearly been eradicated. In the US, there have been no known infectious or “wild” cases of polio since 1979.

In countries that are poor, underdeveloped and do not have access to the vaccine, polio is still a concern especially for infants and children. The World Health Organization (WHO) continues its efforts to eradicate the virus worldwide.

  • The last case of naturally occurring polio infection in the US was in 1979.
  • Infants and young children are at greatest risk.
  • Poliovirus infections are more common during the summer and autumn seasons.
  • The risk for paralysis from the virus increases with age.
What are the symptoms of poliomyelitis?

Poliovirus infections can exhibit symptoms in varying degrees of severity. The majority of individuals (90 to 95 percent) have no symptoms at all. This is referred to as inapparent infection. The three other categories will be discussed.

The following are the most common symptoms of poliomyelitis. However, each person may

experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

abortive poliomyelitis

A mild and short course of the disease with one or more of the following symptoms:

  • fever (up to 103 F or 39.5 C)
  • decreased appetite
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • sore throat
  • not feeling well all over
  • constipation
  • abdominal pain
nonparalytic poliomyelitis

The symptoms for nonparalytic poliomyelitis are the same as abortive poliomyelitis but the headache, nausea, and vomiting may be worse. In addition the following symptoms may occur:>/p>

the child may feel sick for a couple of days then appear to improve before getting sick again with the following symptoms:

  • 607; pain of the muscles in the neck, trunk, arms, and legs
  • 607; stiffness in the neck and along the spine
paralytic poliomyelitis

The symptoms for paralytic poliomyelitis are the same as nonparalytic and abortive poliomyelitis. In addition, the following symptoms may occur:

  • muscle weakness all over
  • 607; severe constipation
  • 607; muscle wasting
  • 607; weakened breathing
  • 607; difficulty swallowing
  • 607; weak cough
  • 607; flushed or blotchy skin
  • 607; hoarse voice
  • 607; bladder paralysis
  • 607; muscle paralysis
  • 607; irritability and poor temper control
  • 607; drooling
  • 607; abdominal bloating
Treatment for poliomyelitis:

Specific treatment will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference