It hits children younger than 5 the hardest, the worst form of the virus causing nerve injury that can lead to paralysis, difficulty breathing, and death. During epidemics of the 20th century, the virus often circulated in the hot summer months, sweeping through towns and cities every year or so.
Polio was one of the most terrifying diseases in the world until Dr. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine and tested its safety in 1954.
What causes polio?
However, one type of wild poliovirus still circulates in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and travelers can pick it up and transmit it around the world. “It only takes one passenger with polio to transmit the disease to the United States,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
Transmission can also occur when not enough children in an area are vaccinated. This typically occurs with the oral polio vaccine, which was created by Dr. Albert Sabin and first used in 1961. This vaccine formulation contains a mixture of each of the three types of live attenuated strains of poliovirus, according to the Global Virus Partnership Initiative.
“Vulnerable strains are thrown into the environment by vaccinated children through their digestive systems and can be transmitted from one unvaccinated individual to another, a process exacerbated by poor sanitation systems and the absence of clean drinking water,” the Global Initiative for Global Sanitation said.
Once the strain infects an unvaccinated person, it begins to spread and can be carried by traveling around the world.
“This indicates that the virus may have originated outside the United States where the oral polio vaccine is given because (inactivated) strains cannot emerge from inactivated vaccines,” the statement said.
Highly contagious polio
Most people come into contact with polio by picking up a small piece of infected stool and then touching the mouth. Exposure to the virus also occurs in children Oral toys or other objects contaminated with feces.
In unsanitary conditions, the virus can also spread through contaminated food and water.
Symptoms of polio start like the flu
Like Covid-19, many cases of polio are asymptomatic. In fact, people have no symptoms in about 95% of all polio cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
When symptoms appear, they can take three forms. Flu-like symptoms such as headache, sore throat, nausea, diarrhea, fever and fatigue are characteristics of abortive polio.
If these include additional neurological symptoms, such as sensitivity to light or a stiff neck, the person may have non-paralytic polio.
The World Health Organization has said the most dangerous version of polio can cause paralysis within “hours”. The illness begins with flu-like symptoms, then progresses to muscle aches or cramps and loss of reflexes. Paralysis can occur on one side or the other.
There is no cure for polio, only treatment to relieve symptoms.
“Heat and physical therapy are used to stimulate the muscles and antispasmodic drugs are given to relax the muscles,” the global initiative said. And while this can improve mobility, it cannot reverse permanent polio. “
Vaccination is the only prevention.
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