What Is Polio?

Polio is a serious disease caused by poliovirus that attacks the nervous system leading to paralysis and even death. It is an infectious disease. Polio enters the body through water or food that has been contaminated with poliovirus. Polio is easily spread from person to person. Every child is at risk, for this reason, all children under the age of 15yrs MUST be vaccinated. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines to prevent polio.

This article will help you understand the causes, and symptoms of Polio and the best way to prevent yourself from getting infected by polio. In the article, you will also know whether polio is treatable or not. Your questions on whether the Polio vaccine has any side effects on those who have been vaccinated will be answered after reading this article. 

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What Are the Causes of Polio?

Polio is caused by the poliovirus. It spreads through contact with infected feces. This often happens from poor handwashing. It can also happen from eating or drinking contaminated food or water. It can also be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes infected droplets into the air. Those with the virus can excrete the virus in their stool for several weeks. People are most contagious right before symptoms start and soon after they appear.


How Does Polio Spread?

Polio spreads through encountering poop (feces) of an infected person (fecal-oral route). It can also spread by:

  • Not washing your hands after going to the bathroom or touching poop (like changing diapers).
  • Drinking contaminated water or getting it in your mouth.
  • Eating foods that have touched contaminated water.
  • Swimming in contaminated water. Water can become contaminated when someone who has diarrhea swims in it.
  • Breathing in droplets from a cough or sneeze of a person with polio.
  • Being in close contact with someone with polio.
  • Touching contaminated surfaces.

What Are the Symptoms of Polio?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most infected people (90%) have mild or no symptoms that usually go unrecognized. while others will show paralytic symptoms.

1. Mild polio presents with 1 or more of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Not feeling well all over (malaise)
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain

2. Paralytic polio has the following symptoms:

  •  Muscle weakness all over
  • Severe constipation
  • Muscle wasting
  • Weakened breathing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Muscle paralysis (may be permanent)
  • Drooling

The community members are requested to report to the nearest health facility any child under 15yrs who develops sudden weakness of hands or legs or both with no history of injury.


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How Can You Prevent Polio?

There are only two measures to prevent polio. They include:

  • Good hygiene and handwashing
  • Vaccines

Is Polio Treatable?

A vaccine can prevent polio, but there is no specific treatment for people who become infected. Treatment is focused on easing symptoms. However, supportive measures that can used to ease polio symptoms include:

  • Drinking fluids (such as water, juice, and broth).
  • Using heat packs to help muscle aches.
  • Taking pain relievers.
  • Doing physical therapy and any exercise recommended by your healthcare provider.
  • Getting plenty of rest.
  • Healthful diet
  • Hot packs or heating pads for muscle pain

Is The Polio Vaccine Safe?

Yes. All vaccines offered by the Ministry of Health are tested, safe, effective, and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). Additionally, all medical supplies and commodities including vaccines that are used in the country have undergone rigorous quality control testing procedures by the Pharmacy and Poisonous Board (National Quality Control Laboratory). Several doses of the vaccines provide additional protection and boost the immunity of your child without any harm.

Does The Polio Vaccine Have Side Effects?

On rare occasions, these shots can cause mild or severe allergic reactions, such as:

  • Breathing problems
  • High fever
  • Dizziness
  • Hives
  • Swelling of throat
  • Rapid heart rate

Why Does the Ministry of Health Conduct Repeated Polio Campaigns in Garissa?

Some counties continue to record low immunization coverage for children under 15 years of age, hence increasing the risk. Garissa County is one of the Counties that record low immunization coverage and yet it is one of the high-risk areas due to unvaccinated new arrivals from Somalia. To ensure full protection of children and stop transmission of poliovirus, we need to ensure all children are vaccinated each time there is a campaign. Vaccinating all children will protect them and prevent the polio virus from circulating in the community. Make sure your child receives all the scheduled childhood vaccines at the right time at the nearest immunizing health facility.


In case your child who is from Hagadera, Garissa County misses the vaccination, call IRC at 070460051


If you have any questions, please write to us via the Julisha.Info Facebook page, or chat with us on WhatsApp (+254110601820) Monday through Friday from 08:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.