What it is: Polio (poliomyelitis) is a viral disease that targets the nerves and leads to partial or sometimes full-on paralysis. Children are especially at risk, and their parents should take preventative measures to ensure protection. Basic patterns of polio are subclinical infections, nonparalytic polio and paralytic polio. Although there have been no reported cases in the U.S. in over 30 years, the disease is still common in some parts of the world.
How it spreads: Person-to-person contact allows the virus to spread, most commonly through contact with infected feces, mucus or phlegm.
What it causes: Symptoms of polio are wide-ranging depending on the level of severity. Check with your healthcare provider or CCCHD if you think you or your child has polio. Paralysis, although commonly associated with polio, only occurs in less than one percent of cases. Common symptoms include:
- Muscle aches, localized pain/stiffness
- Loss of reflexes
What to do: Inactivated poliovirus immunization effectively prevents poliomyelitis in most people (immunization is over 90% effective). Children receive four doses of vaccine at two, four and six to 18 months, and a booster dose at ages four to six years. Most adults do not need polio vaccine because they have already been vaccinated as children.