Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system.
How it is spread Polio is most often spread through contact with the stool of an infected person. This can happen in one of many ways:
- eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with the polio virus
- touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the polio virus and then placing the contaminated hand in your mouth
- sharing food or eating utensils with someone infected with the polio virus.
Less commonly, it can be spread through respiratory droplets or saliva.
Signs & Symptoms
About 95% of people infected with polio will have no symptoms. Some have minor symptoms such as fever, fatigue, nausea, headache, flu-like symptoms, stiffness in the neck and back and pain in the limbs. Fewer than 1% of polio cases result in permanent paralysis of the limbs.
A polio vaccine is given to all children as part of the childhood vaccination schedule.
Because there is no cure for polio, treatment usually consists of treating the symptoms until the patient recovers. It can include fluids, medications and rest.