Poliomyelitis is a contagious disease caused by three different serotypes of poliovirus (types 1, 2, and 3). It is responsible for flaccid 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 than 1% of cases however, and after an incubation period ranging from 6 to 20 days, flaccid paralysis develop resulting in sequelae of various intensity and sometimes death.(1)
  • No specific antiviral treatment is available.(2)

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.
  • In 2017, polio was only remaining endemic in 3 countries, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.(2)
  • 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 human disease eradicated from the surface of the earth.


1 - The Pink Book 13th ed. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Poliomyelitis: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable. April 2015; 297-310. Accessed January 2018. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/polio.pdf

2 - WHO. Poliomyelitis Fact sheet. Updated April 2017, accessed January 2018. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs114/en/




A Polio-Free World Will Trigger New Challenges

Polyomelitis infographics

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