- Polio is an infection caused by a virus that affects the whole body including muscles and nerves.
- There are three types of polio:
Non-paralytic: Does not lead to paralysis.
Spinal-paralytic: Can result in the paralysis of one or more limbs.
Bulbar: Can result in dysfunction of swallowing mechanism, respiratory embarrassment, or circulatory distress.
- In 95 percent of polio cases, there are no symptoms. A small number of people may have fever, sore throat, headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.
- One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually of the legs). Among those paralyzed, 5 to 10 percent of patients pass away when breathing muscles become immobilized.
- The virus is found in saliva and feces of sick people. It can be spread by direct contact with sick persons or through the air when a sick person talks, coughs, or sneezes. It is also spread by food, water, or hands contaminated with infected feces.
- Polio can infect a person of any age, but children 5 and under are especially vulnerable and make up roughly 50 percent of polio victims.
- Polio cases have decreased more than 99 percent since 1988 from an estimated 350,000 cases to 223 cases in 2012. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.
- In 2010, only four countries in the world remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988. The remaining countries are Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
- As of 2012, 5 countries remain infected with the virus including Afghanistan, Chad, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Niger.
- There are four types of polio vaccinations and if a child is vaccinated multiple times, they may be protected for life.
- Because there is no cure for polio, the best protection is prevention by way of vaccination. Until every child has been vaccinated, the polio virus will be alive.
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Sources: The Rotary Foundation, UNICEF, World Health Organization, Medical Dictionary, Polio Eradication