Polio is an acute viral infection of the gut spread by the faecal-oral route through contact. This is more common in countries with poor sanitation and close contact in cramped unsanitary conditions.
A large majority of polio cases show no symptoms. However those which do show symptoms are ones which are undistinguishable from other diseases for example a sore throat, fever, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea etc. As the disease advances it can lead to some symptoms of meningitis such as a stiff neck and upper back, finally it can end up causing paralysis which can sometimes lead to permanent paralysis even after recovery.
Treatment for polio requires hospital support such as intubation, mechanical ventilation and antibiotics if respiratory paralysis occurs. Polio must be reported to a healthcare professional so it can be dealt with properly.
Those most at risk are those travelling in areas of poor sanitation for prolonged periods of time. All UK travellers should ensure that they are up to date with their vaccination schedules before travelling to reduce their risk. Being wary of food and drink and keeping a good hand cleaning technique are ideal tactics to reduce risk.
There are various ways to prevent polio such as making sure you eat food that is cooked properly, avoiding buffets and food which has been prepared in advance. If you are interested in the local cuisine make sure the person preparing it washes their hands and cooks the food fresh in front of you. Do not drink tap water and avoid ice cubes in drinks, instead always use bottled water. A thorough hand washing technique is important, using antibacterial hand gel when possible. The most effective form of prevention is vaccination against the disease itself.
Vaccination against polio is available in the UK as a single booster dose for children aged 10 upwards, providing 10 years immunisation. For further information please contact the pharmacy team on 02089021328.