Lincolnshire Post-Polio Library - A Service of The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network
A practical approach to the late effects of Polio
Charlotte Leboeuf

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Luckily, if you once had polio, it is likely that you gradually recovered and, eventually, had very few, if any, obvious signs of the previous disease.

For some people residual complications remain. These include musculoskeletal problems causing movement disability and/or respiratory insufficiency. The use of orthoses, corsets, crutches, wheelchairs and/or respiratory aids may still be necessary.

With the introduction of successful immunisation programs acute polio has become virtually eradicated in the Western world. Today, in Australia, North America and Europe, the greatest risk of non-immunised people getting polio is by contact with the attenuated live oral vaccine or contact with polio-infected people, such as when travelling in areas where polio is common (3). There is concern that if too few people take advantage of the vaccines, the immunity status of the population would diminish to such a degree that acute polio could return. This has happened in pockets of poorly immunised populations in an otherwise polio-free environment.

Immunity following polio infection occurs only for the particular strain which caused the original infection. Therefore, even if you once had polio you can still contract the disease if you come in contact with any of the other strains of the polio virus.

Most health professionals in the industrialised world with first hand experience of polio have retired. This means that today few active practitioners have any knowledge or interest in this "obsolete" disease.

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Copyright The Lincolnshire Post-Polio Network 1997 - 2010.

This document comprises an index, introduction and sixteen other sections or subdocuments. Permission for printing copies is granted only on the basis that ALL sections are printed in their entirety and kept together as a single document.

Document preparation: Chris Salter, Original Think-tank, Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Created: 30th December 1997
Last modification: 20th January 2010.

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