Poliomyelitis is a contagious disease caused by three different serotypes of poliovirus (types 1, 2, and 3). It is responsible for incapacitating paralysis and death.


Symptoms of poliomyelitis

In most cases, the infected patient will remain asymptomatic or present only a flu-like syndrome similar to that observed with other benign viral infections.

In less then 1% of cases however, and after an incubation period ranging from six to 20 days, incapacitating paralysis develop resulting in sequelae of various intensity and sometimes death. (22)

No specific antiviral treatment is available. (23)


Epidemiology and vaccination against poliomyelitis

Transmission is strictly human-to-human, and mainly fecal-oral. Whether symptomatic or not, an infected individual will transmit the virus to close contacts.

Polio still causes epidemic outbreaks in some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, India, and the Middle East.

Two types of vaccine are being used to eradicate the disease:
- Injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV),
- Live attenuated oral polio vaccine (OPV).

After smallpox, poliomyelitis is projected to be the second infection eradicated from the surface of the earth.



22 - Poliomyelitis: Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases 9th edition The Pink Book. CDC; 2006: 231-244


23 - OMS. Poliomyélite. Aide mémoire N°114, avril 2003. :