What is Polio?

This passage discusses the disease polio and its cure.

Lexile Level: 1130L

Categories: Sports & Health


Polio, or infantile paralysis, is a viral paralytic disease, which stole the lives of thousands of young children and permanently crippled others in the early part of the 20th century. The disease dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. The crippling disease can be easily passed from one person to another through casual contact. Within hours of entering the blood stream, the poliovirus attacks the central nervous system, leaving the victim paralyzed. Some people show no symptoms for as long as 30 days. When the disease invades the body, symptoms such as vomiting, headache, fever, and pain occur. The three strains of polio are non-paralytic polio, spinal polio, and bulbar polio. The deadly virus met its match on April 12, 1955 when physician and researcher Jonas Edward Salk announced his creation of the first safe and effective polio vaccine. In 1979, there were only 10 cases reported. Due to this successful vaccine, poliomyelitis has virtually disappeared from the face of the earth.


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