Polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus. The virus lives in an infected person's throat and intestines. It is most often spread by contact with the stool of an infected person. You can also get it from droplets if an infected person sneezes or coughs. It can contaminate food and water if people do not wash their hands.
Most people have no symptoms. If you have symptoms, they may include fever, fatigue, nausea, headache, flu-like symptoms, stiff neck and back, and pain in the limbs. A few people will become paralyzed. There is no treatment to reverse the paralysis of polio.
Some people who've had polio develop post-polio syndrome (PPS) years later. Symptoms include tiredness, new muscle weakness, and muscle and joint pain. There is no way to prevent or cure PPS.
The polio vaccine has wiped out polio in the United States and most other countries.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Polio (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Polio Vaccination (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Post-Polio Syndrome (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) - Short Summary
- Post-Polio Syndrome (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Also in Spanish
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Travelers' Health: Poliomyelitis (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Polio Pictures (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Surveillance to Track Progress Toward Polio Eradication - Worldwide, 2019-2020.
- Article: A comparative assessment of cold chain management using the outbreak of...
- Article: An Updated Economic Analysis of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
- Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Also in Spanish
- Post-Polio Directory: Post-Polio Clinics, Health Professionals, Support Groups (Post-Polio Health International including International Ventilator Users Network)
- World Health Organization