Polio Home > Poliomyelitis Virus
Poliomyelitis virus is a highly contagious virus that causes the medical condition polio. However, up to 95 percent of people who are infected with the virus will have no symptoms of polio. When symptoms do appear, they generally appear 7-14 days after infection with the virus. Infected people who do not have symptoms can still spread the virus and cause others to develop polio.
Poliomyelitis virus is the cause of the medical condition polio. It is a single-stranded RNA virus from the family Picornaviridae and genus enterovirus. The virus only infects humans and is more common during summer months in temperate climates. In tropical climates, there is no seasonal pattern. The poliomyelitis virus is rapidly inactivated by heat, formaldehyde, chlorine, and ultraviolet light.
Polio is also known as:
- Infantile paralysis
- Polio disease
Records from antiquity mention crippling diseases compatible with polio. Michael Underwood first described a debility of the lower extremities in children that was recognizable as poliomyelitis in England in 1789. The first poliomyelitis virus outbreaks in Europe were reported in the early 19th century, and poliomyelitis virus outbreaks were first reported in the United States in 1843.
For the next hundred years, epidemics of poliomyelitis infection were reported from developed countries in the Northern Hemisphere each summer and fall. These epidemics became increasingly severe, and the average age of people affected rose. The increasingly older age of people with primary poliomyelitis virus infection increased both the disease's severity and number of deaths from polio. Poliomyelitis reached a peak in the United States in 1952, with more than 21,000 paralytic cases. However, following the introduction of effective vaccines, poliomyelitis incidence declined rapidly. The last case of wild-virus poliomyelitis acquired in the United States was in 1979, and global poliomyelitis virus eradication may be achieved within the next decade.