Polio Disease was one called infantile paralysis because of the frequency with which children developed the disease. It is found in all parts of the world. Adults may also develop the disease, although most of them have probably been exposed to the disease during childhood and have built up some immunity.
During sever epidemics the virus has been isolated from sewage, and also from flies and food that has been contaminated by flies. It is a strange turn of events that in countries with a low standard of living Polio Disease is rather rare. Most of the children have already been exposed to the virus and have developed an immunity. In countries with a higher standard of living the actual disease occurs more frequently because most children have not been exposed during their early days. Polio Disease could probably be wiped out completely today, either by use of Salk vaccine or the Sabin oral vaccine.
In the first stage of Polio Disease the patient has slight fever, headache, and sore throat. This may be then clear up entirely in two or three days, and the patient may then be immune to the disease for the rest of his life. In a few cases the fever may return after several days. It will be more sever, and there may be headache, stiffness of the joints of the neck and back, as well as muscle pain and tenderness. This may be followed by partial or complete paralysis of some of the body, such as arm or leg, In bulbar polio there may be paralysis of the throat and larynx, and the patient may not be able to swallow or breathe without the use of a respirator. However, many cases of paralysis clear up fairly well and only about 25% of the more severe cases have any permanent damage. Generally speaking, the older patient more serious disease.
Polio Disease Prevention:
Young children and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to Polio Disease. All families are advised to take Sabin oral vaccine, or the Salk vaccine, if they prefer. This is given in three doses, usually four to six weeks apart, beginning with the Type I, followed by Type III, and finally by type II.
Polio Disease Treatment:
Good nursing is most important in all cases of Polio Disease. Paralysis is more likely to be permanent if the patient remains active during the first twenty-four hours after the beginning of the severe symptoms. He should be hospitalized as soon as paralysis is noted. Most milder cases can be cared for at home. Place a thin, plywood board beneath the mattress, above the springs, and another board at the foot of the bed to protect the patients back and feet. Hot packs should be applied for thirty minutes several times a day to whatever parts of the body are affected. Because of heavy sweating the patient will probably need a little extra salt. If he is constipated, use some mild laxative such as milk of magnesia.
If the patient is unable to breathe properly, call an ambulance and send him to hospital where he can be placed in a suitable tank respirator. This will provide him with oxygen and help him to breathe. Such cases are very rare, and the decision to use respirator must be left to the doctor in charge. Paralyze muscle may need the combined care of doctor, nurse, and physical therapist as soon the pain and fever have subsided, the therapist or nurse should begin both passive and active motion of the affected muscles. This will help to restore normal function and will keep the weakened limbs in the best possible condition. All of this must be handled by the physical therapist under the direction of the doctor.
Orthopedic surgery maybe needed later to correct any bone or joint deformities, or to re-attached healthy muscle where there may be need.
Certain other strains of virus, including Coxsackie and ECHO viruses, maybe produce similar picture to Polio Disease. These are usually milder. The treatment in such cases is more or less the same.