Poliomyelitis, or infantile paralysis, is a highly infectious viral paralitic disease. It is characterized by the symptoms ranging from a mild non-paralytic infection to the total paralysis lasting hours.
According to modern medical practice there are three types of viruses causing infantile paralysis. Each of them belongs to the viral family of enteroviruses (infecting the gastrointestinal tract) but known to cause different strain of the illness.
Any person can be infected by infantile paralysis, however young children and infants belong to the group of most frequently affected. That's why the disease has been named infantile paralysis. How is it spread? Nowadays, thanks to the high attention to polio vaccine and polio virus there's almost no spread of poliomyelitis in highly vaccinated communities. However in the households it can be transmitted via the stool of the infected person. The virus is also able to spread via handshakes or objects belonging to the one who's infected. If the person has not been vaccinated he or she runs the risk of catching the infection through simple respiratory secretions.
In the majority of cases people infected by infantile paralysis have no evident symptoms of the illness. Sometimes they can have a flu-like syndrome for about few days (including fever, drowsiness, headache, malaise, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, muscle pains, nausea and sore throat). Approximately 4% of the infected people suffer from meningitis; and less than 1% experience paralysis, which makes it difficult to move arms, legs or use breathing muscles. In accordance with recent scientific researches about 10% of people infected with polio virus experience severe headache and stiffness of the back and neck. This can be due to an inflammation of the meningitis.
The symptoms of infantile paralysis usually are known to appear in six to fourteen days after being infected by the polio virus. According to modern medical practice, three types of polio viruses are known. The first one is the cause of many cases of poliomyelitis and even epidemics of this disease. It leads to the most severe manifestation of infection. The extent of the infantile paralysis depends on the place where the virus strikes and the number of cells being destroyed. In case the person has the paralysis of throat or breathing muscles his or her life may be threatened.
Be aware that infantile paralysis is a highly contagious disease. Patients become most infectious from 7-10 days before to 7-10 days after the mentioned symptoms appear.
Unfortunately, there are no specific medical remedies or antibiotics against infantile paralysis. All the people contacting with polio virus require appropriate medical attention for rehabilitation and excluding possible potential complications (such a paralysis).
The best decision is to prevent the disease. For this purpose two kinds of vaccines have been developed: a live virus oral polio vaccine (or OPV) and an inactivated virus injectable vaccine (or IPV). So, remember to consult your doctor regarding this matter.