Infectious disease caused by poliovirus / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Poliomyelitis, commonly shortened to polio, is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus.[1] Approximately 75% of cases are asymptomatic;[5] mild symptoms which can occur include sore throat and fever; in a proportion of cases more severe symptoms develop such as headache, neck stiffness, and paresthesia.[1][3] These symptoms usually pass within one or two weeks.[1] A less common symptom is permanent paralysis, and possible death in extreme cases.[1] Years after recovery, post-polio syndrome may occur, with a slow development of muscle weakness similar to that which the person had during the initial infection.[2]

Quick facts: Polio, Other names, Pronunciation, Specialty,...
Other namesPoliomyelitis, infantile paralysis, Heine-Medin disease
Polio survivor
A man with a wasted right leg due to poliomyelitis
SpecialtyNeurology, Infectious disease
SymptomsFever, sore throat[1]
ComplicationsMuscle weakness resulting in paralysis;[1] Post-polio syndrome[2]
TypesWild PV types 1,2 & 3; vaccine-derived PV[1]
CausesPoliovirus spread by fecal–oral route[1]
Risk factorsPoor hygiene
Diagnostic methodFinding the virus in the feces or antibodies in the blood[1]
PreventionPolio vaccine[3]
TreatmentNo treatment other than supportive care[3]
Frequency30 (wild) + 856 (vaccine-derived) in 2022[4]

Polio occurs naturally only in humans.[1] It is highly infectious, and is spread from person to person either through fecal-oral transmission[1][6] (e.g. poor hygiene, or by ingestion of food or water contaminated by human feces), or via the oral-oral route.[1] Those who are infected may spread the disease for up to six weeks even if no symptoms are present.[1] The disease may be diagnosed by finding the virus in the feces or detecting antibodies against it in the blood.[1]

Poliomyelitis has existed for thousands of years, with depictions of the disease in ancient art.[1] The disease was first recognized as a distinct condition by the English physician Michael Underwood in 1789,[1][7] and the virus that causes it was first identified in 1909 by the Austrian immunologist Karl Landsteiner.[8][9] Major outbreaks started to occur in the late 19th century in Europe and the United States,[1] and in the 20th century, it became one of the most worrying childhood diseases.[10] Following the introduction of polio vaccines in the 1950s polio incidence declined rapidly.[1]

Once infected, there is no specific treatment.[3] The disease can be prevented by the polio vaccine, with multiple doses required for lifelong protection.[3] There are two broad types of polio vaccine; an injected vaccine using inactivated poliovirus and an oral vaccine containing attenuated (weakened) live virus.[1] Through the use of both types of vaccine, incidence of wild polio has decreased from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988[3] to 30 confirmed cases in 2022, confined to just three countries.[11] There are rare incidents of disease transmission and/or of paralytic polio associated with the attenuated oral vaccine and for this reason the injected vaccine is preferred.[12]