Poliomyelitis (infantile paralysis; polio)

Viral infection that affects mainly young people. Its symptoms resemble those of influenza. Polio also sometimes results in paralysis. Because almost everybody in Britain under the age of 40 is immunized, epidemics almost never occur. The cause is the polio virus, which can affect the anterior horn cells of the spinal column – those that provide the muscles with impulses. Damage to these cells causes slack paralysis. The symptoms initially are fever, possibly followed by a similar feeling to influenza, diarrhoea and a stiff neck, and this is all most patients experience. About 1 percent of patients then have sudden muscular pain, and paralysis of one or more nerve groups in the trunk and/or limbs. The

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