Your questions answered about polio.
Polio (medically referred to as poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus. The virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. It can cause total paralysis in a matter of hours.
One in 200 infections leads to permanent paralysis (usually in the legs). Among those paralysed, 5%–10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilised.
Polio mainly affects children under five years of age.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for polio. It can only be prevented.
The only sure way is to make sure that your child receives the polio vaccine. Please consult your family doctor for more details.
While the number of cases of polio has decreased significantly since 1988, the disease remains active in certain parts of the world including parts of India, Nigeria, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Niger.
Because of their physical handicaps, children with polio may need aids for mobility eg wheelchairs. Fortunately, the polio virus does not affect the brain and as such these children can attend regular schools and do not require special classes. Many go on to become high achievers such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was paralysed in both legs by polio at the age of 39.
Working with local governments, the WHO’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative has undertaken a massive vaccination campaign. For example, in 2002, more than 500 million children in 93 countries were vaccinated against polio. Today, more than 5 million people, who would otherwise have been paralysed with polio, are walking because of this initiative. Unfortunately, such initiatives are very costly with the result that funds are scarce for rehabilitation of the unfortunate ones who do contract polio.
It is important that these children follow healthy lifestyles including consuming a healthy and a well-balanced diet, exercising in moderation, and visiting a doctor regularly so that they can cope better should they develop post-polio syndrome.
Post-Polio Syndrome (PPS) is a condition that can strike polio survivors anywhere from 10 to 40 years after their recovery from polio. Symptoms include fatigue, slow progressive muscle weakness, muscle and joint pain, and muscular atrophy. Doctors estimate the incidence of PPS at about 25 percent of the survivor population.Back to the top