Polio is a infectious disease caused by three polioviruses. It is spread by person to person contact via the nose, mouth or infected faeces. After the initial contact the virus is shed intermittently in faeces and is then unknowingly spread through communities.
Upon entering the body the virus multiplies in the throat and intestines. It then heads to the Central Nervous System, where it can destroy or damage the nerve cells that control muscle movement. Sadly, this can lead to muscle paralysis of any part of the body and even in some cases death.
The majority of people develop flu like symptoms and in some cases those infected do not even realise that they have polio. For some it will get into the Central Nervous System and will cause inflammation around the brain, spinal cord, and brain tissue. This is known as Non-Paralytic Polio.
Polio can invade the motor neurons causing weakness, paralysis, muscle cramps and pain. This is known as Paralytic Polio. Sometimes Polio affects the brain stem causing problems with breathing and swallowing, cardiovascular problems and facial problems. This is called Bulbar Polio.
Those who contracted Polio may be left with varying degrees of weakness, paralysis, fatigue and muscle pain. Some have breathing or Orthopaedic problems. Some have made what looks on the face of it a full recovery and sadly some never recover. It is estimated that there are around 120,000 people who have had polio.
Polio has set the wheels in motion for a further event.
Post Polio Syndrome
Post Polio Syndrome is a neurological condition suffered by those some 30 or 40 years after the initial diagnosis of Polio.
After being stable or without any effects for many years, muscle weakness further develops in muscles not previously affected, there is increased or new fatigue, muscle and joint pain.
Post Polio usually begins slowly, although there can be rapid onset following a trigger action, such as falls or surgery. Post Polio occurs regardless of age or Non-Paralytic or Paralytic Polio. As each symptom develops then this must be managed appropriately.
There is no cure for Post Polio Syndrome.
British Polio Heritage Project
Polio Survivors Network
Post Polio Library