Polio – Tanzania

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Cases of children with Polio reported in Tanzania’s capital Lilongwe. A threat has been alerted in the case of further outbreaks into neighbouring countries.

Polio is a viral disease which may affect the spinal cord causing muscle weakness and paralysis. The polio virus enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with the stool of an infected person. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, head ache, vomit, fatigue, and stiffness. Incubation period is 3 to 6 days.

This one case was the first case to be reported in five years in the continent of Africa.

The government is strengthening vaccination against polio and raising awareness on the virus through the media and health centers.

Photo: Polio virus, colorized.

Poliomyelitis, commonly shortened to polio, is an infectious disease caused by a virus. In about 0.5 percent of cases, it moves from the gut to affect the central nervous system and there is muscle weakness. Many people fully recover. However, years after recovery, post-polio syndrome may occur, with a slow development of muscle weakness similar to that which the person had during the initial infection.

The disease is preventable with the polio vaccine; however, multiple doses are required for it to be effective.

Poliomyelitis has existed for thousands of years, with depictions of the disease in ancient art. The disease was first recognized as a distinct condition by the English physician Michael Underwood in 1789 and the virus that causes it was first identified in 1909 by the Austrian immunologist Karl Landsteiner. The first polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s.

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