Poliomyelitis is more commonly known as polio. It is a highly infectious viral disease transmitted faecally, sometimes through contaminated food or water. There are three strains of the virus – Types 1, 2 and 3.
Thanks to effective immunisation, no-one in the UK has had the disease since the mid 1980s. According to the World Health Organisation, Type 2 was eradicated in 1999, and no cases of Type 3 have been reported since 2012. In 2017 only 22 cases of Type 1 polio were reported worldwide.
Polio mostly affects children under the age of 5.
Initial symptoms of polio include:
- vomiting stiffness in the neck
- pain in the limbs
- Paralysis, often permanent
There is no cure for polio, but vaccination is extremely effective. In the UK, it is part of the NHS’s routine childhood vaccination programme. However, if you are travelling to an area that is still affected by polio, it is advisable to have a booster dose if it has been more than 10 years since your last one.