Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is caused by the genus Enterovirus known as poliovirus. Polio is a viral disease that affects the nerves which can lead to paralysis and death, in its most severe form. It is very contagious and is transmitted by direct contact with someone infected with the virus or by contaminated water and food. These forms of the virus being transmitted can also be known as fecal-oral or oral transmission. (2) Though the polio virus can usually enter the body through contaminated hands with the stool of an infected person. People carrying polio are able to spread the virus or weeks in their feces. It is more common in infants and young children and occurs under conditions of poor hygiene. (2, 3)
Most people affected with polio have subclinical infection which they may not have any symptoms. Those infected but exhibit no symptoms are still able to spread the virus and cause others to develop polio. (3) Clinical polio is divided into two forms, nonparalytic and paralytic. One of the types of polio that does not lead to paralysis is known as nonparalytic polio. The symptoms for this type of polio cause the same flu like symptoms and those typical of other viral illnesses. Another form of polio is called Paralytic polio. The initial symptoms resemble those of nonparalytic polio however, within a week the symptoms specific to paralytic polio begin to show, loss of reflexes, severe muscle aches or weakness, loose and floppy limbs, which are often worse on one side of the body. (5) The outlook fully depends in the type of disease and what part of the body is affected. As long as the brain and spinal cord are not involved then complete recovery is likely to happen. Though the involvement of the brain and spinal cord considers it to be a medical emergency, which can result in paralysis or death.
Since there is no cure for polio, the main goal is to control the symptoms while the infection runs its course. Polio is treated based in its severity. Some supportive treatment may include bed rest, pain relievers, portable ventilators to help breathing, physical therapy to prevent deformity and loss of muscle function, and a nutritious diet. (5) Though the most effective way to prevent polio would be to receive the polio vaccine. However, to help reduce the spread of polio it is best to have good hygiene and cleanliness. Also it would help to follow the Food and Water Safety tips to avoid exposure to any food and drinks that could be contaminated with the feces of a person infected with polio. (2) There are two types of the polio vaccine; a trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV), given by mouth, and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), given as an injection. (3) The polio vaccine is given to children, an adult can already be immune and the chances of contracting polio are minor. However, those adults who tend to travel to parts of the world where polio can still occur, it is recommended to receive a single booster dose of IPV, which can last a lifetime. (5)
A possible complication that can occur is post-polio syndrome, which usually occurs about 40 years after the person is first infected with polio. (1) This syndrome causes muscles to become weaker than what they already were and can also affect muscles that were not affected initially affected. Other symptoms include fatigue and deterioration, also bone deformities and joint pain can be common. Some pathophysiologic causes tend to include chronic