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