What is it?

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a contagious infection caused by various types of Poliovirus

It is spread through direct personal contact and through contaminated food and water

What are the symptoms?

There are 3 types of polio: abortive polio, non-paralytic polio and paralytic polio

In symptomatic polio, symptoms can take from 3–35 days to appear

People who have abortive polio or non-paralytic polio usually recover completely

However, paralytic polio causes muscle paralysis that can result in long-term debilitation and death

Up to 95% of those infected with Poliovirus don’t have symptoms and do not know that they have been infected

How can I contract polio?

The Poliovirus enters the environment mainly through fecal-oral transmission, especially in areas that have inadequate sanitation

The virus can spread through contaminated food or water and also by contact with the respiratory secretions of an infected person

Where can I contract it?

Polio is endemic in Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan and has been transmitted recently in Angola, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo

What vaccines are available?

The Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) is available in Canada

This vaccine protects against infection from 3 types of Poliovirus

Adults who have not been immunized can get the IMOVAX® Inactivated Polio Vaccine

How many shots will I need?

Adults who were not immunized in childhood require 3 doses of polio vaccine over a 6-12 month period

A single booster dose is recommended for adults who completed a polio series in childhood and who are at increased risk of exposure

Polio has been part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule in Canada since the 1950s

Will I need a booster?

If you are over 18 years of age a single booster dose is recommended at least 10 years after your primary series

Immunity following a booster dose lasts a lifetime

How can I prevent polio?

Improved public sanitation and personal hygiene may help reduce the spread of polio

What is the treatment?

Treatment focuses on supporting recovery and preventing complications

This includes bed rest and a nutritious diet

If required, treatment can also include physical therapy, pain medication, ventilators to assist breathing and antibiotics for secondary infections

There is no cure for polio

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