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Poliomyelitis, or better known as polio, is a highly crippling, viral and infectious disease affecting the central nervous system, leading to paralysis.

   It mainly affects children below five years of age. The virus of polio is distinctly found only in humans. As yet, there is no cure to polio, but prevention.

Growth and Symptoms:

    The virus is transmitted through air and it generally multiplies in the human intestine. Initial symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck and pain in limbs.
It can also lead to death due to asphyxiation (breathing muscles become immobilised). Most of the infections lead to irreversible paralysis, mostly in legs.

Vulnerable Group:

    Although it can strike at any age, children especially below the age of three are most vulnerable to it.

     This disease can directly pass from a patient to another through touch and indirectly through contaminated food and other articles. From contact of disease to manifestation of symptoms, it can take from 3-35 days.

    Vaccination is the best method of prevention currently available. Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) and Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), which has to be injected are the best ways to prevent polio. They immunise us against all the three polio viruses. Apart from immunisation, cleanliness and avoiding contamination in any form is required the most to prevent polio.


 Practically, there is no cure for polio. If the symptoms are timely noticed, it can be prevented from spreading. Otherwise it leads to paralysis or in some cases block of respiratory system, which could be lethal. The children should be given several doses of polio vaccines for prevention. Polio and the World During the 1960's polio was brought under control in the industrialised countries. There, it was practically eliminated as a public health problem. Developing countries realised the severeness of this disease at a later stage. At present, the disease is almost eliminated from most parts of the world except south Asia, west, central and some other parts of Africa. At the global level, efforts were on to eradicate polio by 2000. But although it helped in reducing the level of polio cases to a minimum, the world is still far away from being polio-free. Unless not even a single case is present in any part of the world, polio-free-world can't be even thought of as the disease develops from humans only.

Polio and India:

    In India, Polio vaccination was initiated in 1978. Due to several such efforts, at the end of 2000 India had reported only 186 cases of polio. Out of this UP and Bihar together were responsible for 163 cases. The country has accordingly been divided into three Zones:
  • Burden Zone (LBZ).
  • Middle Burden Zone (MBZ).
  • High Burden Zone (HBZ).
States like UP and Bihar fall under the HBZ, whereas MP and Punjab which have only few cases of Polio fall under MBZ. For prevention, under pulse polio immunisation programme initiated in 1995-1996, all children below three years are vaccinated on the same day. Later from 1996-97 the age of the target group was increased from 3 to 5 years.
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