What is Polio and How Do You Prevent It

General Health

What is Polio and How Do You Prevent It

Polio mostly affects children aged 5 years old and below.


Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease that quickly spreads from person to person—eventually resulting in nerve damage to the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by a virus (poliovirus) that can lead to irreversible paralysis and even death. Polio mostly affects children aged 5 years old and below.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health (DOH) has recently declared a polio outbreak last September 19, 2019 in the Philippines after a child was diagnosed in Lanao del Sur. This is the first confirmed case of the debilitating disease in the country—19 years after WHO certified it polio-free last 2000. The last case of polio in the Philippines was recorded in 1993.   Currently, there is no cure for polio and immunization via vaccination remains to be the most effective way to eradicate the deadly disease.

What is polio?

Polio (poliomyelitis) is a highly infectious disease that quickly spreads from person to person—eventually resulting in nerve damage to the brain and spinal cord. It is caused by a virus (poliovirus) that can lead to irreversible paralysis and even death. Polio mostly affects children aged 5 years old and below. Massive efforts are needed to eliminate polio since thousands of infections can occur from even just a single case of polio in a country.

Symptoms

Majority of infected patients do not manifest any visible symptoms of polio. Although quite rare, some patients show flu-like symptoms like fever, sore throat, and headaches. A smaller portion of those who suffer from polio experience more serious symptoms like:

  • Paralysis (can lead to permanent disability and death)
  • Meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain)
  • Paresthesia (feeling of pins and needles)

Transmission

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), polio only affects humans and is very contagious. People who don’t exhibit symptoms but have the virus can still spread the disease to others. The poliovirus lives in an infected person’s throat intestines, which can be spread by:

  • Contact with the infected person’s mouth
  • Placing your hands inside your mouth after you accidentally touch an infected person’s belongings or contaminated feces.
  • Contaminated food and water

Prevention

Currently, there are two types of vaccines against polio: the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and the oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV), with the latter a more common choice around the world. Almost all (99 out of 100) children who complete the required doses will be protected from the disease for their entire lifetime. Immunization through vaccination is the most cost-effective way to protect nations from polio. According to Mayo Clinic, IPV should be administered at the following ages:

  • Two months
  • Four months
  • Between 6 and 18 months
  • Between ages 4 and 6 when children are just entering school

 

General disclaimer
Always consult your doctor before taking any medicine. Your doctor will be in the best position to give the appropriate medical advice. For suspected undesirable drug reaction, seek medical attention immediately and report to the FDA at www.fda.gov.ph and UNILAB, Inc. at 8-864522-1 (8-UNILAB-1) or productsafety@unilab.com.ph. Always buy from your trusted drugstores and retailers.

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