Poliomyelitis is an acute viral infection caused by Polioviruses. It is primarily an infection of the human alimentary tract, but may affect the central nervous system in a very small percentage of cases resulting in varying degrees of paralysis. It is one of the crippling diseases of childhood. The incubation period for this disease is about 7 to 14 days or more.
Initially the child has cold, cough or fever/headache. She/he may have diarrhea, headache, chilliness and pain all over the body. After some days the limbs become it. Sometimes a part of the area recovers automatically but the affected area remains limp/ disabled throughout the life.
Mode of Spread
Polio virus is found in the discharges of the mouth, nose, urine, and stool of the patient and carrier. During the initial stages, polio virus is also present in the child’s throat. They come out while coughing or sneezing and enter the body of a healthy child through breath. After an attack of polio, the virus disappears from the stool after six months.
There is no specific treatment for polio. Good nursing care from the beginning of illness can minimise or even prevent creping. Once a body part is paralyses it remains so permanently. Physiotherapy is helpful to a certain extent in polio.
Immunization is the sole effective means of preventing poliomyelitis. A child should be given polio drops at 1 1/2, 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 months of age and booster dose between the ages of 18 to 24 months.
For the first three weeks, the stool of a child suffering from polio should be buried in the ground or put in closed toilet, Instead of throwing it elsewhere in open. The child should be isolated from other children. Food should always be kept covered, as flies are carriers of polio virus. Report polio cases immediately to the nearest hospital or local health authority.