polio virus


Poliomyelitis is a contagious disease caused by three different serotypes of poliovirus (types 1, 2, and 3). It is responsible for incapacitating paralysis and death.

Symptoms of poliomyelitis

  • In most cases, the infected patient will remain asymptomatic or present only a flu-like syndrome similar to that observed with other benign viral infections.
  • In less then 1% of cases however, and after an incubation period ranging from six to 20 days, incapacitating paralysis develop resulting in sequelae of various intensity and sometimes death. (22)
  • No specific antiviral treatment is available. (23)

Epidemiology and vaccination against poliomyelitis

  • Transmission is strictly human-to-human, and mainly fecal-oral. Whether symptomatic or not, an infected individual will transmit the virus to close contacts.
  • Polio still causes epidemic outbreaks in some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and the Middle East.
  • Two types of vaccine are being used to eradicate the disease:
    - Injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV),
    - Live attenuated oral polio vaccine (OPV).
  • After smallpox, poliomyelitis is projected to be the second infection eradicated from the surface of the earth.


22 - Poliomyelitis: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases 9th edition The Pink Book. CDC; 2006: 231-244

23 - OMS. Poliomyélite. Aide mémoire N°114, Octobre 2012.

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