Common Diseases


Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that lives in the throat and intestinal tract. It is most often spread through person-to-person contact with the stool of an infected person and may also be spread through oral/nasal secretions. It is crippling and potentially fatal. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines.

About 4-8% of infected persons have minor symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, nausea, headache, flu-like symptoms, stiffness in the neck and back, and pain in the limbs, which often resolve completely. Fewer than 1% of polio cases result in permanent paralysis of the limbs (usually the legs). Of those paralyzed, 5-10% die when the paralysis strikes the respiratory muscles. The death rate increases with increasing age.

Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is given as an injection in the leg or arm, depending on patient's age, in order to prevent polio and may be given at the same time as other vaccines. Most people should have been vaccinated against polio when they are children, however adults traveling to polio-endemic or high-risk areas of the world should ensure they are appropriately vaccinated. Adults who have never been vaccinated against polio should get 3 doses of IPV: The first dose at any time, the second dose 1 to 2 months later, and the third dose 6 to 12 months after the second. Adults who are at increased risk of exposure to poliovirus and who have previously completed a routine series of polio vaccination can receive one lifetime booster dose of IPV.