Return of polio: what are the symptoms of this disease that can paralyze you for life?

In New York in the United States, a case of polio worries the health authorities who fear a rapid spread of the disease. Midi Libre takes stock of what this disease is, how dangerous it is and how to recognize it.

A very fast-spreading disease… The case of poliomyelitis detected in New York in the United States worries the health authorities. Especially since traces identified in the wastewater suggest that there is not only one patient in the city, according to Le Parisien.

“Most of the patients are asymptomatic or slightly symptomatic. There are therefore hundreds, even thousands of cases (…) for us to be able to detect a paralyzed case”, warns doctor Patricia Schnabel Ruppert, health commissioner on Tuesday August 9. of Rockland County, BBC. She adds that most cases are asymptomatic, or mildly symptomatic, and “often go unnoticed.”

For every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of others infected. Coupled with the latest wastewater findings, it’s clear: polio is a threat to unvaccinated New Yorkers & children today.

— Dr. Mary T. Bassett (@DrMaryTBassett) August 5, 2022

A disease that can paralyze for life

According to the Institut Pasteur, the disease “appears first by flu-like symptoms (fever, fatigue, headache) which may be accompanied by vomiting, neck stiffness and pain in the limbs. A irreversible paralysis (of the legs in general) occurs in about one in 200 infected people”. Between 5 and 10% of paralyzed patients die from asphyxiation because of the paralysis of the muscles providing ventilation, in the absence of palliative care.

In patients who survive, residual paralysis may remain, which can cause lifelong disabilities. Some former patients can also develop, “several decades after acute poliomyelitis, a” post-polio “syndrome which is characterized by new deficits progressing slowly. The exact causes of the development of this syndrome are not currently well defined”, explains the ‘Pastor Institute. There is no treatment to date.

Compulsory vaccination of babies

Vaccination is compulsory for infants born from 2018. Vaccination coverage is, moreover, very high in France, with “99% for the primary vaccination and 96% for the booster in infants in 2019”, indicates Health public France. The French health authorities emphasize that vigilance is however to be maintained.

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