What Is Polio?
In order to make a polio diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions about the person's medical history and perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms.
If the doctor suspects polio, he or she will order certain tests that help make a diagnosis. These tests will look for the virus or antibodies the body has made against the virus. In order to perform these tests, a stool sample or a throat swab may be taken.
Several other medical conditions can mimic the signs and symptoms of polio. The doctor will consider these conditions before making a diagnosis. Some of these conditions include:
(Click Diagnosing Polio for more information.)
There is currently no treatment for polio that can kill the virus. Antibiotics or other medications are not effective. Instead, treatment focuses on providing relief of symptoms as the body fights the infection. This is called supportive care.
(Click Polio Treatment for more information.)
The best cure for polio is preventing it in the first place. Prevention is best accomplished with the vaccine, which is usually given as a shot. Only one kind of vaccine, inactivated polio vaccine (IPV), is now used in the United States. A live, oral polio vaccine (OPV) has not been used in the United States since 2000, but is still used in many parts of the world.
(Click Polio Prevention to learn more.)