All You Need To Know About Polio

Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by poliovirus.
The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body). There is no cure, but there are safe and effective v

Key Facts

  • Polio was eliminated in the United States in 1979. This means there is no ongoing spread of the disease for more than 12 months since then. We continue to vaccinate our nation’s children because the disease still occurs in other parts of the world and could easily be brought into the U.S.
  • Most people infected with poliovirus have no symptoms. About 24 percent have minor flu-like symptoms that don’t last long. They may have a sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, headache, or stomach pain. Only a few people who get poliovirus will develop meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord or brain) or paralysis in the arms or legs.
  • Polio was once one of the most feared diseases in the U.S. In the early 1950s, before polio vaccines were available, polio outbreaks caused more than 15,000 cases of paralysis each year.
  • While borders can’t stop diseases from spreading, vaccines can. Fortunately, we have a good level of protection against polio in the United States. Most of us have been vaccinated, and current polio vaccination coverage among young children in the United States is 93 percent.


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