ABC Medical Center > Poliomyelitis

What is Poliomyelitis?

21:55 - 4 May , 2021


This disease is highly contagious, mainly in children, caused by the polio virus, which can cause paralysis, respiratory problems, and, in extreme cases, death.

The most common form of infection is through direct contact with an infected person who can transmit the virus for several weeks in feces. However, it can also be spread through contaminated food or water. 

Poliomyelitis is a serious disease that can be fatal, especially in children under five years old, but anyone who is not vaccinated is at risk of getting it. Although the use of the vaccine has spread worldwide and the number of infections and deaths has decreased significantly, it is an active disease that requires a complete vaccination schedule to avoid contracting the virus.

Signs and symptoms Poliomyelitis

In most cases, there are no symptoms, but certain people may have flu-like symptoms, with episodes of: 

  • Headache.
  • Sore throat.
  • Tiredness and weakness.
  • High fever.
  • Vomit.
  • Numbness of the neck, back, and limbs.

Other symptoms appear in paralytic poliomyelitis, such as:

  • Intense muscle pain.
  • Loose and limp limbs.
  • Loss of reflexes

This type of polio can cause temporary or permanent muscle paralysis, disability, bone deformities, and death.

Some people, years after suffering from the disease, may present the so-called post-polio syndrome characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Sleep apnea.
  • Muscle atrophy.
  • Tiredness.
  • Muscle and joint pain and weakness.
  • Breathing or swallowing problems.
  • Cold intolerance.

Diagnosis and treatment Poliomyelitis

Once your doctor analyzes your symptoms and medical history, he or she will perform a physical examination to establish the diagnosis. However, you may be asked for a throat secretions, stool, or cerebrospinal fluid sample to confirm the presence of the polio virus.

As it is a viral condition, there is no cure or specific therapy, but it is usually treated with painkillers, portable ventilators, and physical therapy to prevent muscle and bone deformity.


The best way to avoid this disease, which in extreme cases can affect areas of the nervous system and the brain that control movement and breathing, among other vital functions, is the correct application of the vaccine. However, like any vaccine, it can cause allergic reactions, such as:

  • Weakness.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Dizziness.
  • Cough.
  • Accelerated heart rate.
  • Urticaria.

If you or your child have any of these symptoms, go immediately to the ABC Medical Center Emergency Room.

In ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


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  • mayoclinic.org
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  • kidshealth.org
  • msdmanuals.com
  • medigraphic.com
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  • González-Rubio R. La Poliomielitis y su erradicación en México y las Américas Reto histórico de salud hecho realidad. Sal Jal. 2018;5(1):49-51.
  • Velázquez-Arellano A. Un capítulo olvidado de la tecnología y la ciencia mexicanas: Luis Gutiérrez Villegas y la poliomielitis en México . Gac Med Mex. 2017;153(5):633-640.
  • Esteves-Jaramillo A, Herbas RIMJ, López-Collada VR. Poliomielitis paralitica asociada a la vacuna (PPAV): Reporte de dos casos en México. Rev Enfer Infec Pediatr. 2012;25.26(101):192-196.

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