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Polio

Polio is an infection that can affect the whole body, but always affects the nerves and muscles.

Causes

Polio is caused due to a virus infection.

The Polio virus is transmitted via ingestion of a virus commonly found in human feces and sewage.  In areas where human sewage is allowed to contaminate the drinking water or wells/pools/tanks, the virus can infect older children and adults who come in contact with these waters when swimming, bathing, or ingesting. It is often transmitted from one person to another by the fecal (i.e. from feces) to oral (mouth) route.

The virus may enter through the nose or mouth, then invade the intestine, where they move into intestinal cells and multiply into thousands of new virus particles.  These are then excreted through the stool (for weeks), thereby renewing the cycle and endangering the entire community with the risk of infection.

Symptoms

Mild infection

Moderate infection of brain and spine

Severe infection of brain and spine

In most cases, the patient may not feel any symptoms. In other cases, symptoms are

  • Flu like symptoms
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Mild fever
  • Headache
  • Symptoms of mild infection
  • Moderate fever
  • Neck stiffness
  • Muscle tenderness and pain in various parts of the body such as the calf (behind the leg)
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rash
  • Excessive weakness or fatigue

  • Muscle weakness and rapid progression to paralysis (loss of function) depending on the nerve involved (i.e., arm, leg)
  • Muscle pain, tenderness, and spasm (neck, back, arms, or legs)
  • Inability to bend the neck, keep the neck straight, or lift the arm or leg
  • Irritability
  • Abdominal Bloating
  • Choking
  • Difficulty making faces or facial expressions
  • Problems with urinating or bowel movements (Constipation)
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Drooling

Complications
Inflammation of the heart muscle, Coma, Death

Risk factors

  • Children at high risk, especially young children not yet toilet trained
  • Adults who have not been vaccinated
  • Regions where flies from infected feces are allowed to contaminate food
  • Infected water sources (near sewage dumping grounds)
  • Low body defenses such as AIDS and cancer

To prevent polio

  • Keep yourselves and the surroundings clean
  • Vaccinate children (See Vaccination schedule)
  • Eat nutritious food


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