Polio is a disease caused by the poliovirus and has largely been eradicated around the world. Although there is no cure, vaccination at a young age has stopped the disease spreading. Apart from isolated cases, it is largely thought to be under control. The poliovirus has gone from being a worrying childhood illness to something that is easily managed with vaccines.
It is usually seen in two different varieties – one which causes a minor illness and a far more serious one that can affect the central nervous system and causes paralysis. The vast majority of people will handle the infection quite easily. It might involve a high temperature, abdominal pain and a sore throat or headache. In about 1% of cases, though, the virus causes paralysis and this can occur very quickly. This is normally not permanent but it can leave sufferers with long term problems such as muscle weakness and muscle shrinkage and, in severe cases, deformed limbs.
The virus is caught by someone with the infection and can be transmitted either through droplets from a cough or sneeze or via faecal matter. With the current vaccination techniques used around the world, many regions are now considered polio free.
Those suffering from post-polio syndrome can continue to have symptoms such as fatigue and muscle deformity for many years afterwards. It is also difficult to diagnose and often involves ruling out other conditions before an accurate assessment is reached. Those living with PPS can often become disabled and require a multi-disciplinary team who can help with the various symptoms.