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/
Infographics on Flickr
IPV introduction - Polio eradication is in sight
History of eradication in 4 acts
Watch our polio heroes playlist