Polio: What it is and An Understanding

polioPoliomyelitis (also commonly known as polio) is an acute viral disease which spread from person to person (infectious disease) by fecal-oral route, i.e. by contaminated drinking water, food or drinks. Poliomyelitis is a disease that causes paralysis/weakness of muscles (that is why poliomyelitis is also known as infantile paralysis).

What is the causative agent of polio?

Poliomyelitis is caused by polio virus, which belongs to Enterovirus, an RNA virus. Poliovirus and its related groups of viruses colonize the human gastrointestinal tract (especially oropharynx and intestive). Poliovirus infects only humans and there are no other known animal reservoirs or polioviruses. Once infected (either by natural infection or by vaccination with live attenuated virus), individuals either develop the disease or develop immunity against poliovirus.

More than 90% of polio infections are asymptomatic (do not give rise to any symptoms). If virus enters blood stream, it may give rise to various symptoms. Only approximately 1% of polio infections virus enters CNS (central nervous system) which infects and destroy motor neurons that results in muscle weakness and acute flaccid paralysis.

Currently polio eradication campaign is going on throughout the world, because polio is an eradicable disease with current technology and resources (just like smallpox, which is already eradicated). World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF (United Nations Children Fund) and Rotary Foundation are leading the campaign of polio eradication. If eradicated, polio will be the third disease to be eradicated from the globe (the other two are smallpox and rinderpest).

According to WHO the reported polio cases came down more than 99%, from more than 350,000 in 1988 to 650 in 2011, due to global effort of polio eradication. However, the job (total polio eradication) is still incomplete, until total eradication of polio from the globe. We hope polio will be eradicated in less than a decade from today and we are waiting for official declaration of polio eradication by WHO.

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poliomyelitis

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