Patients With Abortive Polio Infections Biology Essay


The effects of polio have been known since prehistory; Egyptian paintings and carvings depict otherwise healthy people with withered limbs, and children walking with canes at a young age. The first clinical description was provided by the English physician Michael Underwood in 1789, where he refers to polio as "a debility of the lower extremities". The work of physicians Jakob Heine in 1840 and Karl Oskar Medin in 1890 led to it being known as Heine-Medin disease. The disease was later called infantile paralysis, based on its propensity to affect children.

-Before the 20th century, polio infections were rarely seen in infants before six months of age, most cases occurring in children six months to four years of age. Poorer sanitation of the time resulted in a constant exposure to the virus, which enhanced a natural immunity within the population. In developed countries during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, improvements were made in community sanitation, including better sewage disposal and clean water supplies. These changes drastically increased the proportion of children and adults at risk of paralytic polio infection, by reducing childhood exposure and immunity to the disease.

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-Small localized paralytic polio epidemics began to appear in Europe and the United States around 1900. Outbreaks reached pandemic proportions in Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand during the first half of the 20th century. By 1950 the peak age incidence of paralytic poliomyelitis in the United States had shifted from infants to children aged five to nine years, when the risk of paralysis is greater; about one-third of the cases were reported in persons over 15 years of age. Accordingly, the rate of paralysis and death due to polio infection also increased during this time. In the United States, the 1952 polio epidemic became the worst outbreak in the nation's history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year 3,145 died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis. Intensive-care medicine has its origin in the fight against polio. Most hospitals in the 1950s had limited access to iron lungs for patients unable to breathe without mechanical assistance. The establishment of respiratory centers to assist the most severe polio patients, was hence the harbinger of subsequent ICUs.

-The polio epidemics changed not only the lives of those who survived them, but also affected profound cultural changes; spurring grassroots fund-raising campaigns that would revolutionize medical philanthropy, and giving rise to the modern field of rehabilitation therapy. As one of the largest disabled groups in the world, polio survivors also helped to advance the modern disability rights movement through campaigns for the social and civil rights of the disabled. The World Health Organization estimates that there are 10 to 20 million polio survivors worldwide. In 1977 there were 254,000 persons living in the United States who had been paralyzed by polio. According to doctors and local polio support groups, some 40,000 polio survivors with varying degrees of paralysis live in Germany, 30,000 in Japan, 24,000 in France, 16,000 in Australia, 12,000 in Canada and 12,000 in the United Kingdom. Many notable individuals have survived polio and often credit the prolonged immobility and residual paralysis associated with polio as a driving force in their lives and careers.

-The disease was very well publicized during the polio epidemics of the 1950s, with extensive media coverage of any scientific advancements that might lead to a cure. Thus, the scientists working on polio became some of the most famous of the century. Fifteen scientists and two laymen who made important contributions to the knowledge and treatment of poliomyelitis are honored by the Polio Hall of Fame, which was dedicated in 1957 at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation in Warm Springs, Georgia, USA. In 2008 four organizations (Rotary International, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF) were added to the Hall of Fame.

-Symptoms of poliomyelitis :

-Although polio can cause paralysis and death, the vast majority of people who are infected with the poliovirus don't become sick and are never aware they've been infected with polio.

1-Nonparalytic polio:

-Some people who develop symptoms from the poliovirus contract nonparalytic polio - a type of polio that doesn't lead to paralysis (abortive poliomyelitis). This usually causes the same mild, flu-like signs and symptoms typical of other viral illnesses.

Signs and symptoms, which generally last two to 10 days, include:


Sore throat




Back pain or stiffness

Neck pain or stiffness

Pain or stiffness in the arms or legs

Muscle spasms or tenderness


2-Paralytic polio :

-Fewer than 1 percent of people infected with poliovirus develop paralytic polio, the most serious form of the disease. Initial signs and symptoms of paralytic polio, such as fever and headache, often mimic those of nonparalytic polio. Between one and 10 days later however,

signs and symptoms specific to paralytic polio appear, including:

Loss of reflexes

Severe muscle aches or spasms

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Loose and floppy limbs (acute flaccid paralysis), often worse on one side of the body,The onset of paralysis may be sudden.

-Prognosis of poliomyelitis :

-Patients with abortive polio infections recover completely. In those that develop only aseptic meningitis, the symptoms can be expected to persist for two to ten days, followed by complete recovery. In cases of spinal polio, if the affected nerve cells are completely destroyed, paralysis will be permanent; cells that are not destroyed but lose function temporarily may recover within four to six weeks after onset. Half the patients with spinal polio recover fully; one quarter recover with mild disability and the remaining quarter are left with severe disability. The degree of both acute paralysis and residual paralysis is likely to be proportional to the degree of viremia, and inversely proportional to the degree of immunity. Spinal polio is rarely fatal.

Without respiratory support, consequences of poliomyelitis with respiratory involvement include suffocation or pneumonia from aspiration of secretions. Overall, 5-10% of patients with paralytic polio die due to the paralysis of muscles used for breathing. The mortality rate varies by age: 2-5% of children and up to 15-30% of adults die. Bulbar polio often causes death if respiratory support is not provided; with support, its mortality rate ranges from 25 to 75%, depending on the age of the patient. When positive pressure ventilators are available, the mortality can be reduced to 15%.


-Many cases of poliomyelitis result in only temporary paralysis. Nerve impulses return to the formerly paralyzed muscle within a month, and recovery is usually complete in six to eight months. The neurophysiological processes involved in recovery following acute paralytic poliomyelitis are quite effective; muscles are able to retain normal strength even if half the original motor neurons have been lost. Paralysis remaining after one year is likely to be permanent, although modest recoveries of muscle strength are possible 12 to 18 months after infection.

-One mechanism involved in recovery is nerve terminal sprouting, in which remaining brainstem and spinal cord motor neurons develop new branches, or axonal sprouts. These sprouts can reinnervate orphaned muscle fibers that have been denervated by acute polio infection, restoring the fibers' capacity to contract and improving strength. Terminal sprouting may generate a few significantly enlarged motor neurons doing work previously performed by as many as four or five units: a single motor neuron that once controlled 200 muscle cells might control 800 to 1000 cells. Other mechanisms that occur during the rehabilitation phase, and contribute to muscle strength restoration, include myofiber hypertrophy-enlargement of muscle fibers through exercise and activity-and transformation of type II muscle fibers to type I muscle fibers.

-In addition to these physiological processes, the body possesses a number of compensatory mechanisms to maintain function in the presence of residual paralysis. These include the use of weaker muscles at a higher than usual intensity relative to the muscle's maximal capacity, enhancing athletic development of previously little-used muscles, and using ligaments for stability, which enables greater mobility.


-Residual complications of paralytic polio often occur following the initial recovery process. Muscle paresis and paralysis can sometimes result in skeletal deformities, tightening of the joints and movement disability. Once the muscles in the limb become flaccid, they may interfere with the function of other muscles. A typical manifestation of this problem is equinus foot (similar to club foot). This deformity develops when the muscles that pull the toes downward are working, but those that pull it upward are not, and the foot naturally tends to drop toward the ground. If the problem is left untreated, the Achilles tendons at the back of the foot retract and the foot cannot take on a normal position. Polio victims that develop equinus foot cannot walk properly because they cannot put their heel on the ground. A similar situation can develop if the arms become paralyzed. In some cases the growth of an affected leg is slowed by polio, while the other leg continues to grow normally. The result is that one leg is shorter than the other and the person limps and leans to one side, in turn leading to deformities of the spine (such as scoliosis). Osteoporosis and increased likelihood of bone fractures may occur. Extended use of braces or wheelchairs may cause compression neuropathy, as well as a loss of proper function of the veins in the legs, due to pooling of blood in paralyzed lower limbs. Complications from prolonged immobility involving the lungs, kidneys and heart include pulmonary edema, aspiration pneumonia, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, paralytic ileus, myocarditis and cor pulmonale.

3-Post-polio syndrome:

- Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a condition that affects polio survivors anywhere from 10 to 40 years after recovery from an initial paralytic attack of the poliomyelitis virus. PPS is characterized by a further weakening of muscles that were previously affected by the polio infection. Symptoms include fatigue, slowly progressive muscle weakness and, at times, muscular atrophy. Joint pain and increasing skeletal deformities such as scoliosis are common. Some patients experience only minor symptoms, while others develop spinal muscular atrophy, and very rarely, what appears to be, but is not, a form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig's disease. PPS is rarely life-threatening.

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