Good to know about Polio: the facts that nobody should ignore.
1) What is Polio ?
Poliomyelitis, commonly known as Polio, is an infection caused by poliovirus that affects the whole body, including muscles and nerves.
There are 3 types of poliomyelitis infections: non-paralytic (which produces only mild symptoms), infra-clinical (the most regular form that can cause paralysis of one or more limbs but does not affect the central nervous system ) and paralytic (The rarest and most serious form).
Polio is spread by contact; person to person or through the air when a sick person speaks, coughs or sneezes. It is also spread by food, water or hands contaminated with infected feces.
2) How does it manifest itself ?
Polio can infect people of all ages, but children under five are particularly vulnerable and account for around 50 percent of polio victims.
When a child is infected with wild poliovirus, the virus enters the body through the mouth and multiplies in the intestine. It is then poured into the environment through the stool where it can spread quickly through a community, especially in situations of poor hygiene and sanitation.
Up to 95% of polio cases have no symptoms. Some people may have fever, sore throat, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea.
These asymptomatic people carry the virus in their intestines and can “silently” spread the infection to thousands more before the onset of the first case of polio paralysis.
3) What are the risks of this epidemic ?
One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually legs). Of those paralyzed, 5 to 10% of patients die when the respiratory muscles become immobilized.
Children who have polio paralysis die because the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe.
Several key risk factors have been identified as increasing the likelihood of paralysis in a person infected with polio. These include: Immunodeficiency, Pregnancy, Tonsil tonsillectomy removal, intramuscular injections, wounds, intense exercise and others.
4) How to prevent Polio ?
- Vaccination is the best prevention because there is no cure for polio.
- If all children are fully immunized against polio, the virus is unable to find carriers who may infect others.