Polio is a contagious disease that can spread through the air, food, and water. It is also spread by contact with sneezes and coughs from an infected person. Infected persons may be contagious for two to six weeks after contracting the virus. It is also possible to contract polio without showing any symptoms. The treatment for a mild disease is fluids and bed rest.
Polio is a virus that infects the spinal cord and brain. It causes paralysis and weakness in specific muscles. In addition, it can affect breathing and swallowing. The symptoms of polio are similar to those of flu or other viral infections. If you or someone you know is infected with the virus, it is essential to seek medical care immediately.
Polio is still a threat in some parts of the world, but the number of cases is dwindling. There are different types of polio, including abortive poliomyelitis, which results in flu-like symptoms and no long-term complications. Non-paralytic poliomyelitis, on the other hand, may lead to aseptic meningitis and require hospitalization.
The poliovirus affects nerves in the anterior horn of the spinal cord, which controls motor movement. Infection of this area of the spinal cord is life-threatening because it causes severe paralysis of respiratory muscles. It can also affect the lower spinal cord, resulting in permanent muscle weakness and paralysis.
Treatment of polio focuses on preventing complications, increasing comfort, and managing symptoms. Common treatments include bed rest, antibiotics, painkillers, and physiotherapy. In severe cases, a patient may need to be ventilated. Modern portable ventilators are often used. Vaccination against polio is highly recommended.
Symptoms of polio can last for several months or even years. The most common symptom is fatigue, which is often described as an overall feeling of exhaustion. Fatigue also affects the sufferer’s mental alertness. Most polio survivors describe a significant decrease in stamina after the disease, and it can take three to four times as long to recover as a person who has never had the disease.
Acute polio is extremely painful. In addition, patients may develop muscle stiffness and weakness and experience a high fever. In the worst cases, patients may be temporarily paralyzed and experience temporary weakness.
Vaccines against polio protect children and adults from this life-threatening disease. These vaccines work by triggering the immune response in the body to fight against poliovirus. There are two main types of polio vaccines: oral and injectable. Both forms aim to prevent infection, but they are administered differently. The oral version uses an attenuated virus, which stimulates the immune response in the body.
In the late 1950s, several researchers began developing vaccines for polio when the disease was still widespread worldwide. In 1961, a vaccine based on a virus culture taken from macaque monkeys was developed. Trials were conducted in Africa and the United States. The vaccine was administered to about a million people in Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, a lack of vaccines has led to widespread shortages in some countries. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), nearly one-third of the 194 countries surveyed experienced a shortage of vaccines at one point. This included high and low-income countries. The shortages were attributed to multi-factory manufacturing, insufficient vaccine stocks, and the lack of a single vaccine manufacturer in a region.
Polio is caused by a virus that multiplies in the intestines and is transmitted from person to person through contaminated water and food. The disease progresses gradually and is usually mild but can cause permanent paralysis. The virus remains infectious in the feces and stools of an infected person for several weeks. After the virus has been present for several weeks in the body, it replicates in the intestines, infecting local lymphoid tissue and the central nervous system. The poliovirus destroys motor neurons in the anterior horn of the spinal cord and brain stem cells, causing distinctive paralysis.
There were 162 confirmed cases of paralytic poliomyelitis in the United States between 1980 and 1999. This represents an average of eight cases a year. Six of these cases were caused by wild poliovirus acquired outside the country. Another two cases were classified as “indeterminate” cases, in which no poliovirus was isolated from the case’s samples. The remaining 154 cases were diagnosed as vaccine-associated paralytic polio, caused by Sabin polioviruses.