What is Poliomyelitis, and how is it treated? What impact did it have on the United States?

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Payal Khullar eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poliomyelitis, commonly known as Polio, is a viral disease caused by “Poliovirus”. It is an infectious disease, which can transmit from an infected person to a non-infected one by direct contact, by contact with oral channels (mouth or nose), or by contact with feces of the infected person. The virus makes entry through mouth or nose, and spreads through the bloodstream or lymphatic system. Polio mostly affects infants and young children. In many cases, those suffering from this disease might not develop any symptoms at all. In severe cases, however, polio can lead to partial or complete paralysis, respiratory difficulties, and even death. There is no real cure of Poliomyelitis as such. Treatments are generally symptomatic. Once the virus has infected the body, it will run its course. Medications help relieve pain and control breathing problems. Polio vaccination is the best and, in fact, the only effective guard against the disease. Incidence of Polio declined in the United States sharply after the introduction of inactive polio vaccine and the live oral polio vaccine in the mid twentieth century. Now, vaccination against polio is given to all infants and children in the United States. In general, the success rates of polio eradication initiatives have been high in many other developed and developing countries as well.