What is Poliomyelitis?


Polio is a contagious viral illness that, in its most severe form, causes paralysis, difficulty of breathing, and sometimes even death.

A suspect case of polio is defined as any patient below 15 years of age with acute flaccid paralysis including those diagnosed to have Guillain- Barre Syndrome for which no other cause can be immediately identified.

Its cause is a very infectious enterovirus, poliovirus (PV), which primarily affects young children.

Its mode of transmission is spreads through: direct person-to-person contact; contact with infected mucus, phlegm, or feces; or contact with contaminated food and water.

Statistics of WHO

According to World Health Organization, polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 cases then, to 406 reported cases in 2013. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.

In 2014, only 3 countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988.

image credit to : biologymeansbusiness.com

image credit to : biologymeansbusiness.com

In most countries, the global effort has expanded capacities to tackle other infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems.

In 1994, the WHO Region of the Americas was certified polio-free, followed by the WHO Western Pacific Region in 2000 and the WHO European Region in June 2002. On 27 March 2014, the WHO South-East Asia Region was certified polio-free, meaning that transmission of wild poliovirus has been interrupted in this bloc of 11 countries stretching from Indonesia to India. This achievement marks a significant leap forward in global eradication, with 80% of the world’s population now living in certified polio-free regions.

Of the 3 types of wild poliovirus (type 1, type 2 and type 3), type 2 wild poliovirus transmission has been successfully stopped (since 1999).

More than 10 million people are today walking, who would otherwise have been paralysed. An estimated more than 1.5 million childhood deaths have been prevented, through the systematic administration of Vitamin A during polio immunization activities.

Signs and Symptoms
  • Fever
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty of breathing
  • Inability to move affected arm/leg
  • Death may occur if respiratory muscles are affected.
Is there a Treatment?

There is no treatment for polio but support treatment based on the symptoms presented/manifested by the patient may be done.

To Prevent and Control
  • Get vaccinated with 3 doses of oral polio vaccine (OPV) or as inactivated poliovirus (IPV) found in some commercially available combination vaccines.
  • Be careful with personal hygiene to help reduce the spread of polio.
  • Improve public sanitation.