Poliomyelitis (Infantile Paralysis); spread, signs and symptoms, management, prevention


This is highly contagious acute viral disease of the nervous system leading to paralysis of the lower limbs.

Causative organism: poliovirus types I, II, III.

Incubation period 3 – 21 days

Mode of transmission

  • Direct from faces of infected person to the mouth of uninfected person through the hands
  • Indirect through contaminated food and water
  • Direct or indirect from pharyngeal secretions of infected person.
Photo by Histopathology-India.net

Signs and symptoms

  1. Starts with fever
  2. Malaise and headache
  3. Irritability and restlessness
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Severe muscle pain and stiffness or neck
  6. Respiratory failure if the respiratory muscles are affected
  7. Paralysis occur in 3 -4 days as the temperature slows down


  • Symptomatic treatment
  • Ensure barrier nursing
  • Sponge child to reduce temperature
  • Personal hygiene is taken care off
  • Avoid injection during fever period (prevent provoking paralysis)
  • Rehabilitation is case of permanent disability

Prevention and control

  1. Isolation
  2. Immunization of all children with oral polio vaccine
  3. Proper disposal of faces and discharges from the throat (disinfect before disposal)
  4. Concurrent disinfection of article soiled by discharges/faces
  5. Proper hand washing before eating/handling of food / after visiting the toilet.
  6. Keeping finger nails short
  7. Cover food and water to prevent cockroaches and setting on it
  8. Notification and Health education on the disease

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