Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly contagious viral infection with a wide range of manifestations. Some patients are asymptomatic while others suffer from symptoms such as fever, headache or gastrointestinal problems. In more serious cases, severe muscle pain and stiffness of the back and neck, with or without paralysis can occur. The paralysis may be permanent.
The polio virus is transmitted by direct contact with an infected person. It enters the body through the mouth or respiratory tract. The disease is endemic in all developing countries. The incubation period lasts 7 to 14 days and contagion is maximum at the beginning of the disease.
In Canada, an inactivated poliomyelitis vaccine is part of the regular vaccination schedule of preschoolers. A single lifetime booster shot is recommended for adults previously immunized against polio and at increased risk of polio exposure (e.g. travelers in endemic areas).
There is no treatment of the disease. We only treat the symptoms.