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Polio

Polio Facts

  • Polio is an infectious disease caused by polioviruses that can result in symptoms ranging from none to lifelong disability or death.
  • Risk factors are highest for those people unvaccinated against polio, young children, immunosuppressed people, pregnant females, those people living or traveling in areas where polio is endemic, and polio patient caregivers.
  • Polio symptoms first begin like any other viral illness; progressive symptoms include muscle discomfort and muscle paralysis with late symptoms of muscle atrophy, weakness, extremity disfigurement, and breathing problems in some patients.
  • People who have risk factors or symptoms should seek medical care immediately.
  • Diagnosis of polio is made by clinical observation of symptoms and by tests that detect the polio viruses in samples taken from the patient.
  • There is no medical cure for polio; medical treatment is designed to reduce symptoms.
  • There are many surgical methods used to help relieve symptoms of polio (mainly bone, joint, and muscle modifications).
  • Follow-up is very important to help relieve symptoms and to be ready to treat post-polio syndrome if it develops.
  • Prevention of polio is possible with appropriate vaccination treatments; avoiding contact with polio viruses by good hygiene and avoiding areas where polio is endemic also help prevent polio.
  • The prognosis for most people who are infected by the polio viruses is good, but those few patients who develop paralytic polio have a prognosis ranging from good to poor, depending on the severity of infection.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/18/2013
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