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Published by Nader Smadi

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Published by: Nader Smadi on Feb 07, 2009
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Polio is a contagious viral illness. In its most severe form, polio causes paralysis,difficulty breathing and sometimes death.During the first half of the 20th century, no illness inspired more dread and panic inthe United States than did polio. Sometimes called infantile paralysis, polio struck inthe U.S. every summer and fall with virulent epidemics. In 1952, when the polioepidemic was at its peak, 3,000 people died.By the mid-1950s, mass immunization with the polio vaccine began to slow polio'sspread, and in 1979 the last case of wild polio — polio caused naturally, not by avaccine containing live virus — occurred in the U.S. Today, despite a concertedglobal eradication campaign, wild poliovirus continues to afflict children and adults indeveloping nations, including Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that you take precautions to protect against polio if you're traveling to certain parts of the worldwhere there is risk of polio. Adults previously vaccinated with a primary poliovaccine series and who are traveling to areas where polio is occurring should receive a booster dose of inactivated poliovirus (IPV). Immunity following a booster dose of IPV lasts a lifetime.
Despite polio's ability to cause paralysis and death, the vast majority of people whoget the poliovirus don't become sick and are never aware they've been infected with polio. Yet even without signs or symptoms of polio, they still shed the virusintermittently in their stool for several weeks and occasionally for months. In areaswith poor sanitation, a single person with poliovirus can potentially infect hundreds of others before the first case of polio that causes paralysis appears.
Nonparalytic polio
 A small number of people who contract poliovirus develop nonparalytic polio — atype of polio that doesn't lead to paralysis (abortive poliomyelitis). This usuallycauses the same mild, flu-like signs and symptoms — sore throat, fever, nausea,vomiting, and constipation or diarrhea — typical of other viral illnesses. Most peoplerecover from abortive polio in less than a week.About 5 percent to 10 percent of infected people develop nonparalytic asepticmeningitis, a viral infection of the outer covering (meninges) of the brain. Signs andsymptoms, which generally last two to 10 days, include:
Back pain or stiffness
 Neck pain or stiffness
Pain or stiffness in the arms or legs
Muscle spasms or tenderness
Paralytic polio
 Fewer than 1 percent of people infected with poliovirus develop paralytic polio, themost serious form of the disease. Paralytic polio often begins with a fever. Five toseven days later, other signs and symptoms appear, including:
 Neck and back stiffness
Increased sensitivity to touchThe paralytic polio symptom that causes limbs to appear loose and floppy (acuteflaccid paralysis) often comes on suddenly and usually is worse on one side of the body.Paralytic polio has historically been divided into several types, depending primarilyon which part of the body is affected. These classifications aren't rigid, and overlapmay occur among the different forms. In the past, distinctions among polio types mayhave varied with the method and time of diagnosis.
Spinal polio.
This most common form of paralytic polio attacks certain nervecells (motor neurons) in your spinal cord and may cause paralysis of themuscles that control breathing and those in your arms and legs. The musclesaffected and the extent of paralysis depend on the part of the spinal cord andnumber of neurons involved. Although paralysis can occur in any combinationof limbs — for instance, both legs and one arm — children under age 5 aremost likely to become paralyzed in a single extremity, while in adults, paralysis of both arms and legs is more common.Sometimes the neurons are only damaged, in which case you may recover some degree of muscle function. But if the neurons are completely destroyed,the paralysis is irreversible, although you still retain your sense of feeling,unlike after many spinal cord injuries.
Bulbar polio.
In this severe type of polio, the virus affects the motor neuronsin your brainstem, where the centers of the cranial nerves are located. Thesenerves are involved in your ability to see, hear, smell, taste and swallow. Theyalso affect the movement of muscles in your face and send signals to your heart, intestines and lungs. Bulbar polio can interfere with any of thesefunctions but is especially likely to affect your ability to breathe, speak andswallow and can be fatal without respiratory support.
Bulbospinal polio.
A combination of both bulbar and spinal paralytic polio,this form can lead to paralysis of your arms and legs and may also affect breathing, swallowing and heart function.
Post-polio syndrome
 Affecting some people who have recovered from polio, post-polio syndrome is acluster of disabling signs and symptoms that appears decades — between 10 and 40years — after the initial illness. Common signs and symptoms include:
 New muscle weakness in limbs that may or may not have been affectedinitially
General fatigue and exhaustion after minimal activity
Muscle and joint pain
Breathing or swallowing problems
Sleep-related breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea
Decreased tolerance of cold temperatures
Nerve cell (neuron)
Several viruses are transmitted to humans through animals. But the poliovirus residesonly in humans and enters the environment in the feces of someone who's infected.Poliovirus spreads primarily through the fecal-oral route, especially in areas wheresanitation is inadequate.Poliovirus can be transmitted through contaminated water and food — there's someevidence that flies may spread the virus to food — or through direct contact withsomeone infected with the virus or who has recently received an oral polio vaccine(OPV), which contains live virus. Polio is so contagious that anyone living with arecently infected person is likely to become infected too. Although people carrying

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