Communicable disease Poliomyelitis (polio, or infantile paralysis)
Poliomyelitis (polio, or infantile paralysis) is an acute viral infection, affecting mainly children but older person also. There are three immunologic types of poliomyelitis virus; exposure to one type produces immunity only to that type, so infection with the other types is still possible. Spread of the infection is primarily through contact with an infected person. Most people who contract polio either exhibit no symptoms or experience only minor illness; however, such individuals can harbor the virus and spread it to others.
The virus enters the body by way of the mouth, invades the bloodstream, and may by carried to the central nervous system, where it causes lesions of the gray matter of the spinal cord and brain. The illness begins with fever, headache, stiff neck and back, and muscle pain and tenderness. If there is involvement of the central nervous system, paralysis ensues.
Of those patients who develop paralytic poliomyelitis, about 25 per cent sustain severe permanent disability, another 25 per cent have mild disabilities, and 50 per cent recover with no residual paralysis. The disease is usually fatal if the nerve cells in the brain are attacked (bulbar poliomyelitis), causing paralysis of essential muscles, such as those controlling swallowing, heartbeat, and respiration.
There is no specific drug for treatment. For reasons not clearly understood, some people who have had severe polio, experience post-polio syndrome.
A condition in which new weakness and pain occurs years later in previously affected muscles.