Polio is a highly contagious disease caused by the poliovirus. It is most commonly spread via fecal-oral transmission and less commonly via droplets.
The vast majority of people infected with polio have no symptoms or a non-specific febrile illness. Less than 1% of all polio infections result in the classic “acute flaccid myelitis,” where the patient is left with permanent weakness or paralysis of legs, arms, or both.
Healthcare providers should suspect paralytic polio if the following is present:
Acute flaccid limb weakness- note, often asymmetric Proximal muscles affected more than distal muscles
Low muscle tone
Decreased or absent reflexes
The extent of paresis or paralysis is directly related to the extent of neuronal involvement; paralysis occurs if >50% of the neurons supplying the muscles are destroyed.
If paralytic polio is suspected, a provider should contact the local health department (Rockland County DOH) immediately to coordinate obtaining appropriate specimen collection for testing.
Vaccination. The best protection against contracting polio is completing the CDC recommended vaccine series of IPV. Children should get four doses one dose at each of the following ages: 2 months old, 4 months old, 6 through 18 months old, and – a booster dose at- 4 through 6 years old.
It is imperative for providers to stress the importance of vaccination with their patients.
There is no risk of getting polio from this vaccine, and it is highly effective in producing immunity to poliovirus. Adults who have previously completed a routine series of polio vaccine but are considered at increased risk of exposure to poliovirus and can also receive one lifetime booster dose of IPV.
Adults who have never been vaccinated against polio should get 3 doses of IPV: the first dose at any time, the second dose 1 to 2 months later, the third dose 6 to 12 months after the second.