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Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a viral infectious disease that mainly affects young children. It can lead to paralysis, primarily of the legs. Thanks to widespread vaccination efforts, polio has been eradicated in many parts of the world, although it remains endemic in some countries.
Polio can affect people of any age, but it mainly affects children under 5 years old. However, unvaccinated individuals of any age are susceptible to the poliovirus.
There are three types of poliovirus: Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3. Each type can cause polio, and vaccination efforts typically target all three types to prevent the disease.
To prevent polio, the most effective precaution is vaccination. The oral polio vaccine (OPV) or inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) provide protection against the virus. Additionally, practicing good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, can help reduce the spread of the virus. In areas where polio is still present, avoiding contact with infected individuals and following public health guidelines can also help prevent transmission.
The symptoms of polio can vary, and not everyone infected with the virus will show symptoms. However, common symptoms include fever, sore throat, headache, fatigue, stiffness in the neck, and muscle weakness or paralysis, usually in the legs. In severe cases, polio can lead to permanent paralysis or even death.
There is no specific medicine to treat polio itself. Instead, medical care focuses on supportive treatments to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. This may include pain management, physical therapy to prevent muscle stiffness and deformities, and assistive devices such as braces or wheelchairs to aid mobility for those affected by paralysis. Additionally, vaccination remains the primary method for preventing polio.
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