1. What is Polio?
Polio (A.K.A. Poliomyelitis) is an extremely contagious and debilitating disease caused by the polio virus. It occasionally causes death but the infection leads to paralysis, death results if the respiratory muscles are paralyzed. Polio is only found in human and spreads from person to person through food, water and hands contaminated by faeces (stool) containing the virus. Uncovered food can also be contaminated by flies carrying faces containing the virus. The virus attacks the brain and the spinal cord.
Polio is common in developing countries like Nigeria where sanitation is poor and potable water is in short supply. People resident in developed countries rarely get polio infection except on visit to a developing country, but it can then spread within that developed country through pharyngeal secretions.
Polio has no cure but can be prevented as stated below. Polio infection is endemic in only three (3) countries in the world – Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan- according to the World Health Organization. However no new case has been reported in Nigeria in over 12 months.
2. What causes Polio and how does it spread?
Poliomyelitis is causd by Polio virus.there are three types of the virus:Type 1, Tyope 2 and Type 3.
The Polio virus spreads from person to person through food, water and hands contaminated
by faeces containing the virus. The Polio virus is passed out in faeces (stool). If stool is passed in the open field/bush, it may be washed off to pollute sources of drinking water.
Food is another medium of spread. Food should be thoroughly cooked before eating and
must be eaten hot.
In developed countries, spread is through oral-pharyngeal means such as through deep throat kissing.
3. Who does it affect?
The disease affects mainly children under the age of (5) years, about 90 percent of cases, adults are occasionally affected.
4. What are the possible complications?
Paralysis which can affect muscles of the neck, chest, trunk, abdomen and limbs; usually on one side. Respiratory difficulty, respiratory failure and death are all possible complications.
5. What are the risk factors?
Poor sanitation, minor operations during an epidemic such as tonsillectomy, tooth extraction could trigger paralysis due to polio if the person already has the infection, strenuous exercise and intramuscular injection can do the same.
6. How do I save my child from Polio?
You can save your child from polio by vaccination, ensure that your child completes the vaccination regime; three to four doses in the first year of life and a booster dose before 5 years..
The vaccine (whether by oral means or injection) has the three types of Polio virus though some countries now use the vaccine with Types 1 and 3 virus.
Complete vaccination regime gives almost 100 percent protection against Polio for life.