An illness caused by a virus that affects nerves and often can be prevented with a vaccine.


Poliomyelitis also is called polio. The illness is caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads when a person who has polio coughs or sneezes. It also spreads in stool and in water contaminated with stool.


People who catch the poliovirus may not have symptoms. But symptoms may include fever, sore throat, headache and vomiting. A severe form of the disease may cause neck pain, stiffness in limbs or headache. Polio also can lead to paralysis and trouble breathing or swallowing.


The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms of polio and may include warm packs for muscle pain, pain relievers, spine or limb splints, portable ventilators, and physical therapy.