Poliomyelitis a paralytic disease commonly known as Polio or infantile paralysis is a crippling and life threatening diseases that is caused by the polio virus; this virus invades a person’s brain and spinal cord, this result in paralysis as the affected individual cannot move part of the body.

This disease is contagious as the virus spreads from person to person through contact; symptoms of polio are tiredness, nausea, sore throat, vomiting, fever headache and stomach pain.

Some people affected with polio may develop more serious symptoms that can affect the brain and spinal cord; some of these symptoms are meningitis, feeling of pins and needles in the legs, weakness in the arms or legs or both and paralysis. Paralysis affects 1 out of 200 polio cases.

Paralysis leads to permanent disability and it is the most severe symptom of polio; paralysis by polio infection can also lead to death because the virus can affect the respiratory muscles that help with breathing.

For now polio has no cure or specific treatment, it can only be prevented by immunization and it is of three types.

Non-paralytic polio

Also known as abortive poliomyelitis, it does not lead to paralysis; it gives signs and symptoms that can last from one to ten days.

Its signs and symptoms are flu-like and they include fever, sore throat, fatigue, meningitis, vomiting, muscle tenderness and spasm, arm and leg stiffness, back and neck pain and headache.

Paralytic polio

Paralytic polio leads to paralysis in the spinal cord (called spinal polio) or brainstem (called bulbar polio) or paralysis can also happen in the both the brain and spinal cord (bulbospinal polio).

Symptoms of paralytic polio are similar to that of non-paralytic polio but after a week, severe symptoms sets in like loss of reflexes, severe spasm, muscle pain, floppy limbs, loss limbs that sometimes happen on one side of the body, sudden paralysis which can be temporary or permanent and deformed limbs especially on the hips, ankles on feet.

It is rare for full paralysis to develop in polio infection and less than 1% of polio cases results in paralysis.

Post-polio syndrome (PPS)

A medical condition that can happen to children and adult who seems to recover fully from polio; post-polio syndrome in children is characterized by weakness and new muscle pain while in adults it is characterized by paralysis.

It can occur even after 40 years of recovering; common symptoms of post-polio syndrome are constant muscle and joint weakness, muscle pain that gets worse, becoming tired and exhausted easily, chronic fatigue, muscle wasting, trouble swallowing and breathing, sleep apnea, low tolerance of cold temperature, mood swings, weakness in previously un-involved muscles, memory problems and difficulty concentrating, depression and sleep problems.

It is estimated that 25 to 50% of people who survived polio will see symptoms of post-polio syndrome. Reduction of pain and fatigue and management strategies to improve the quality of life is the treatment for PPS.

This virus only affects only humans; it is very contagious and can spread when one comes in contact with an infected individual; infected persons have the virus living in their throat and intestines and it is also present in droplets when they sneeze or cough.

It enters the body through the mouth and spreads through faces and dropping from the mouth when an infected persons coughs or sneezes.

Water, farm produce and anything that comes in contact with feces contaminated with polio virus can spread the infection; the virus can live in an infected person’s feces for many weeks and contamination can occur when food and water are handled in unsanitary conditions.

An infected person who has no symptoms can still pass on the diseases to others and an infected person can spread the virus before the symptoms appear to about 1 or two weeks after the symptoms appear.

Polio can be prevented by practicing good toilet hygiene like washing of hands after using the toilet, washing the hands before eating and regular washing of hands in general. Also toilets and sewages should not be placed close to a river or farm so that water and food contamination can be avoided.

If you notice any of the above signs and symptoms, please do not hesitate to reach out for medical help; quick and proper medical attention can help to reduce the action of the virus and prevent further damages.

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