GENERAL HEALTH

A Guide on World Polio Day: What are its Symptoms and Treatment?

Polio disease is caused by the poliovirus

There is no cure for polio but vaccination prevents it

Polio causes symptoms like limb deformities and trouble breathing

B
Bajaj Finserv Health
November 15th, 2021
9 mins read

Polio is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Younger children below 5 years of age are vulnerable to polio. The virus spreads primarily through oral and fecal routes. Once it enters the central nervous system, it multiplies rapidly. In fact, it can cause paralysis within hours. To spread awareness about this condition, World Polio Day is celebrated on 24th October every year. Polio Day highlights the importance of vaccination. Since there is no cure for polio, immunization through vaccines protects children for life.

October 24th marks the birth anniversary of Jonas Salk. He played a key role in developing the first vaccine against poliomyelitis. Read on to understand more about this condition and how International Polio Day is observed worldwide.

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What are polio causes and symptoms?

The polio virus spreads most commonly through direct contact with infected feces. This isn’t the only way though. The infection can spread through: 

  • contaminated water 
  • infected food 
  • contaminated objects 
  • sneezing 
  • coughing

As it can spread so easily, children before the ages of 5 are at a higher risk. Kids who are not vaccinated properly are most vulnerable to polio. In some cases, infected people hardly show any symptoms. The symptoms last 1 to 10 days and this is known as non-paralytic polio. These signs will be similar to flu, which are: 

  • vomiting 
  • headaches 
  • fatigue 
  • sore throat
  • fever

When the condition causes paralysis, it is called paralytic polio. The brain stem, spinal cord, or both get paralyzed. The initial symptoms are similar to non-paralytic polio. But the infected person worsens with time. A few of these symptoms are: 

  • loose limbs 
  • muscle pain
  • severe body spasms
  • deformities in limbs
  • loss of reflexes

If you recover from it, you can still get it again. This is known as post-polio syndrome. Some of the symptoms are: 

  • trouble in swallowing and breathing 
  • excruciating muscle pain 
  • weakness in joints and muscles 
  • feeling fatigued 
  • unable to sleep properly
  • loss of concentration

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How is polio disease diagnosed and treated?

Polio is diagnosed by observing the symptoms through a physical examination. Doctors check the stiffness of your neck and back. In some cases, your reflexes will be tested as well. Treatment can only happen during the course of infection. This is why the best approach is to get vaccinated.

Typically, the treatment methods followed are: 

  • prescribed drugs for muscle relaxation 
  • having painkillers
  • bed rest
  • following physical therapy to improve walking posture
  • undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation method to improve lung endurance 

What are the facts about polio eradication so far?

Few facts on polio eradication are listed below [1]:

  • Polio can be prevented using effective and affordable vaccines. One is the oral polio vaccine and the other is the inactivated polio vaccine. Implementing large-scale vaccination drives helped eradicate it in most parts of the world.
     
  • Since the launch of Global Polio Eradication Initiative, the number of polio cases has drastically reduced by more than 99%. Around 16 million people are safe from paralysis because of effective vaccination efforts.
  • 1 out of 200 infections may result in irreversible paralysis affecting the legs. Amongst paralyzed children, 5-10% lost their lives due to immobilization of breathing muscles.
  • Of the three strains of wild poliovirus, Type 2 was completely eradicated in the year 1999. The incidence of type 3 virus was not reported anywhere globally since 2012.

How is World Polio Day celebrated?

There is usually a theme followed across the world. Polio Day 2020 followed the theme Stories of Progress: Past and Present. This acknowledged how much progress has been made in the polio eradication struggle. The theme also recognized the efforts of all those who were involved in this struggle.

For Polio Day 2021, the theme was Delivering on a Promise. On this day, the Polio Eradication Strategy was launched. It delivers on a promise that was made many years ago. There is now a 99.9% reduction in the transmission of this disease [2].

Giving children polio shots according to the vaccination schedule is crucial. It is the only way to eradicate this disease. Creating awareness globally can help prevent the spread of this disease. Follow your kid’s vaccination schedule and don’t miss out on giving polio drops. Find health centers to get vaccinated with ease on Bajaj Finserv Health. Set reminders for it and consult with top pediatricians to get a proper immunization schedule. Book an in-person or online consultation on the app or website and protect your child’s health.

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

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