Polio is a dangerous viral disease that can infect the brain and spinal cord. While many with polio show no symptoms or only minor symptoms, it can be deadly to others. Polio was a major health threat in the United States in the early and mid-1900s. In the 1940s and early 1950s, it crippled some 35,000 people in the United States each year. Today, polio has been eradicated in the United States, thanks largely to widespread vaccination efforts. But there are other areas of the world where polio is still common and causing harm. This includes parts of the Middle East and Africa.
Symptoms of Polio
Paralysis and death from polio are rare, but they are large enough threats that the effort to eradicate the disease was warranted. Of those infected with polio, about 95 percent show no symptoms. Around 4 to 8 percent exhibit flu-like symptoms, including fatigue, fever, nausea, headaches and other symptoms. Around 1 percent of those with polio develop paralysis, which usually affects the legs. And 5 to 10 percent of those who become paralyzed will eventually die from complications of polio, usually in the respiratory system.
The polio vaccine is the primary method for preventing polio infection. The vaccine is typically administered to children, and the form most children in the United States receive is called inactivated polio vaccine, or IPV. Children typically get four doses of the vaccine – at 2 months, 4 months, 6-8 months and 4 to 6 years. If a child or adult is unvaccinated and is planning to travel to a part of the world where polio is still present, vaccination is recommended.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention