Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system.Children younger than 5 years old are more likely to contract the virus than any other group.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1 in 200 polio infections will result in permanent paralysis. It is estimated that 95 to 99 percent of people who contract poliovirus are asymptomatic. This is known as subclinical polio. 

Even without symptoms, people infected with poliovirus can still spread the virus and cause infection in others.


Polio is most often spread through contact with the stool of an infected person. This can happen in one of many ways:

  • ​Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with the polio virus
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the polio virus and then placing the contaminated hand in your mouth
  • Sharing food or eating utensils with someone infected with the polio virus.
  • Less commonly, it can be spread through respiratory droplets or saliva.

Signs & Symptoms

About 95% of people infected with polio will have no symptoms. Some have minor symptoms such as fever, fatigue, nausea, headache, flu-like symptoms, stiffness in the neck and back and pain in the limbs. Fewer than 1% of polio cases result in permanent paralysis of the limbs.


The best way to prevent polio is to get the vaccination. Children should get polio shots according to the vaccination schedule presented by the Department of Health.


Because there is no cure for polio, treatment usually consists of treating the symptoms until the patient recovers. It can include fluids, medications and rest.  

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