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17 May 2017
Poliomyelitis  

Causative agent

It is caused by poliovirus.

Clinical features

The disease mainly affects young children. It can cause fever, headache, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, muscle pain, stiffness in the neck and back, and paralysis. Most patients will recover, but in severe cases, it can lead to permanent disability and death.

Mode of transmission

The disease is highly infectious. It is spread from person-to-person, mainly through the faecal-oral route. The virus enters the body through oral route and finally invades the central nervous system.

Incubation period

It is usually 7 – 14 days, with a range of 3 – 35 days.

Management

Suspected infected persons should be referred to the hospital for further management and isolation. Currently, there is no curative treatment for the disease.

Since the patient’s stool may contain the virus, carers should take extra precautions in the hygiene practices when caring for the sick.

Prevention

Vaccination is the most effective way of preventing the disease. There are two types of polio vaccine: Oral Polio Vaccine to be taken by mouth and Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) to be given by injection. IPV has been used in the Hong Kong Childhood Immunisation Programme since 2007.

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