Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects young children. The virus is transmitted through contaminated food and water, and multiplies in the intestine, from where it can invade the nervous system.
Many infected people have no symptoms, but do excrete the virus in their faeces, hence transmitting infection to others. Initial symptoms of polio include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness in the neck, and pain in the limbs.
In a small proportion of cases, the disease causes paralysis, which is often permanent. Polio can only be prevented by immunization.
- World Polio Day: PAHO calls for maintaining the high level of polio vaccine coverage in the Americas, 2013
In recognition of World Polio Day, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) calls for maintaining high levels of polio vaccine coverage in the region and strengthening epidemiological surveillance of possible cases of acute flaccid paralysis.
- More than 20 years without Polio in the Americas, 2011
This little Peruvian boy (pictured left) is Luis Fermín Tenoria. Luis was the last child in the Americas to be paralysed by indigenous wild poliovirus, first showing symptoms of the disease on 5 September 1991. More than twenty years later, the region is still free from polio. But this has not been without tremendous effort.
- Final Report of the 2nd AMR RCC, Brasilia, Brazil - 28-29 February 2008
Final Report of the Second Meeting of the American Regional Commission for Certification of Poliovirus Laboratory Containment and Verification of Poliofree Status (AMR RCC), Brasilia, Brazil - 28-29 February 2008.
- Final Report of the 1st AMR RCC, Washington, DC, March 2004
In 1994, an independent International Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication (ICCPE), established by PAHO’s Director, certified the Region of the Americas polio-free.