Health topics

Poliomyelitis (polio)

WHO/B. Kadirov
 

Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted by person-to-person spread mainly through the faecal-oral route or, less frequently, by a common vehicle (e.g. contaminated water or food) and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs. In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented by immunization.

Highlight: Africa advances toward a polio-free continent

11 August 2015 marks 1 year since the last wild polio case was detected on the entire African continent. A polio-free Africa would leave only two countries where polio transmission has never been interrupted: Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, spearheaded by WHO and partners, aims for a polio-free world by 2018.