Alternate Names : Acute Paralytic Poliomyelitis OR APP, Polio, Type 1 Poliovirus, Paralytic Poliomyelitis, Nonparalytic Poliomyelitis, Infantile Paralysis
Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a virus that causes a mild, flu-like illness in
some people but in others leads to nerve damage and paralysis. A vaccine to
prevent polio was developed in the 1950s and since then the infection has been
eliminated from the US and most of Europe. The virus reproduces in the
digestive system and spreads through the blood to the rest of the body. The
virus is spread to others through infected feces or by airborne particles.
What is going on in the body?
During an attack of polio, nerve cells in the spinal cord are damaged or
destroyed. These nerve cells transmit nerve impulses to the muscles and cause
them to move. Without these functioning nerve cells, the body cannot move. Some
of these nerve cells survive, however, and they can send out new nerve
connections. In these cases, persons can regain much of their muscle use.
What are the causes and risks of the infection?
Polio is caused by the poliovirus. In countries where people are not routinely
vaccinated against the disease, polio can be spread through infected feces or
through airborne particles.