Polio was first described in the 19th century by two scientists – Jakob Heine (in 1840) and Karl Oscar Medine (in 1890). To date, no effective treatment for the disease has been found, but immunization against polio is used in many countries.
Four cases of polio in children have been confirmed in the Transcarpathian region of Ukraine. According to the doctors, all four had contact with a child from the Rivne region. None of the children were vaccinated.
Ukraine is fighting polio. Virologist warns: One in 200 infected people will be paralyzed
Prof. Włodzimierz Gut, a virologist, said in an interview with PAP that polio, which affects children in Ukraine, is different from what we know from the past. – Attenuated or weakened viruses are not dangerous to humans, they are not able to cause disease. But if such a virus passes through passages, it can regain its virulence after some time – explained Prof. Gut.
Passaging is the transmission of the virus, most often through the intestinal tract, to an unvaccinated person, and then to other people. Eventually, one of these versions of the previously benign virus will regain its ability to cause disease. The expert then warns that children should be vaccinated against polio because it “may come back and wreak havoc again.” – Statistically, one in 200 infected people will get paralysis – said prof. Gut.
Polio – symptoms, diagnosis, treatment
Polio is also known by the following names: acute childhood paralysis, Heine-Medina disease, viral anterior horn inflammation, and childhood paralysis. Until now, there is no known treatment for polio.
Polio infection occurs through droplets or food. In about 90 percent. people, it is asymptomatic. In others, the first symptoms usually appear up to 14 days after infection. Later, the virus attacks the lymph nodes as well as the bloodstream. At this stage of the disease, the so-called primary viral load, which is a condition in which viruses that can reproduce are present. Also at this stage, the body can produce antibodies that inhibit the development of the infection. This is when it is said to be abortion. If the antibodies are not produced, there is a so-called secondary viremia. Then the virus spreads not only in the blood but throughout the body, and the symptoms are much more severe. At this stage, it is referred to as a paralytic disease.
Depending on what organs are affected by the virus, several forms of the disease are distinguished:
- Bulbar form – nerve centers located in the base of the brain are affected. This type of paralysis is associated with serious problems that can endanger the patient’s life. In this case, the most common symptoms are problems with speech, movement and sometimes problems with the functioning of the respiratory system.
- Spinal form – in this case the muscles are paralyzed, most often the muscles of the lower limbs, less often the upper limbs or the trunk. Paralysis is usually asymmetric, and may take the form of paresis or paralysis. The muscles that become paralyzed gradually decline.
- The bulbar-spinal form is a combination of the two previous forms, so both the base of the brain and the spinal cord are affected.
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Interestingly, doctors also distinguish post-polio, which shows symptoms of infection only after 20-30 years. Then there is a deterioration of the body’s efficiency, muscle weakness, frequent pain in the joints and muscles, problems with breathing, swallowing and speaking. If paralysis has occurred previously, post-polio usually affects muscle groups that were not previously paralyzed. Fortunately, in many cases the disease progresses slowly and does not lead to significant impairment of muscle function.
In Poland, vaccination against the polio virus is compulsory. According to the vaccination program, in children under 2 years of age, the first polio vaccination is performed at the 3-4th month of the child’s life, the next – at 5-6 months, and the third – at 16-18 months. Older children still receive booster doses.