Polio Home > How Do You Get Polio?

How do you get polio? Poliovirus is transmitted in a few ways -- for example, sharing food with an infected person or drinking liquids that are contaminated with poliovirus. Polio transmission most often occurs through contact with stool from an infected person (fecal-oral contact). Less frequently, polio transmission can occur through contact with infected respiratory secretions or saliva (oral-oral transmission).

How Do You Get Polio? -- An Overview

Polio is a highly contagious illness that can spread easily from person to person. In fact, when a person is infected with polio, it is expected that polio transmission among susceptible household contacts will occur in nearly 100 percent of children and over 90 percent of adults. Polio is also known as:
 
 
When a person is infected with poliovirus, the virus resides in the intestinal tract and mucus in the nose and throat. Poliovirus transmission most often occurs through contact with stool of this infected person (known as fecal-oral transmission). Less frequently, polio transmission can occur through contact with infected respiratory secretions or saliva (oral-oral transmission).
 
How Do You Get Polio? -- Fecal-Oral Polio Transmission
Polio transmission most often occurs through contact with stool from an infected person. This can happen in one of several ways, including:
 
  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with poliovirus. Poliovirus is commonly found in sewage water.
 
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with poliovirus (for instance, by changing diapers), then putting the contaminated hand in the mouth.
 
  • Sharing foods or eating utensils with someone infected with poliovirus.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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