What is Polio, anyway

Polio is a contagious disease that affects the brain and spinal cord and leads to severe consequences such as paralysis and meningitis. A virus called poliovirus is the reason why the disease can occur.

Not many people are aware of this virus nowadays because, thanks to the vaccine, there have been no cases of Polio originating in the US reported for the last 40 years.

However, that does not mean that Polio ceased to exist: it can be brought in by those who travel to other countries and are not vaccinated against the disease.

Here are some facts about Polio that you might be interested to know.

What are the symptoms?

Most people who are affected by Polio either do not develop any visible symptoms at all or have light symptoms reminiscent of flu.

About 25% of those infected with Polio reported the following symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain

These symptoms bother a person for a couple of days and then disappear without any special treatment. People who are infected but do not show any symptoms are still contagious and can pass on the virus to others through personal contact.

Polio vaccine

Vaccines help the immune system to create antibodies that can later arrest the disease.

There are two types of polio vaccines:

  • Oral polio vaccine
  • Polio vaccine shot containing a killed polio virus

With the introduction of these vaccine types, the number of polio cases plummeted from 15,000 cases to 10. The vaccine is most effective if it is done at a very early age and in three steps; in this case, the effectiveness reaches 90%.

People may experience dizziness, redness, or soreness after being injected, but in most cases, it goes unnoticed. It is better if you warn your doctor about any allergies you can potentially develop after being vaccinated.

Poliovirus derives from vaccine

The oral polio vaccine is made up of a weakened poliovirus. That means that in case a person takes it, a version of the virus will be living inside their body and can be transmitted from one person to another if they have person-to-person contact. In this case, the virus can mutate and take on new forms and spread further in the community.

But there is no need to worry since these cases are very rare, and also, the US healthcare system refrained from oral vaccines in favor of leg or arm injections.

How to treat Polio

The disease can be treated with physical or occupational therapy, which can improve the quality of life in the long run. Each case is examined individually, and therapists also consult neurologists and experts on infections to find the best treatment option for their patients with Polio.

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