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Causes of Polio

Delve into the history and understanding of polio as we explore its causes, transmission, and the global effort to eradicate this debilitating disease.

  • 09 Oct 2023
  • 3 min read

Poliovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that has been causing serious health problems for millions of people worldwide since ancient times. It can cause irreversible paralysis, with around 10 to 15 percent of those infected dying from the disease and many others forced to live with lifelong disabilities. Although effective vaccines against polio were developed in the 1950s, cases still occur - but why? In this blog post, we'll explore the causes of polio for better understanding of this severe disease.

How is Polio Caused?

Polio is caused by the poliovirus, and is also known as poliomyelitis. This highly contagious virus exclusively targets humans and enters the body through the mouth. Here are a few causes of polio:

  • Poliovirus transmission can occur if a person touches their mouth after coming into contact with even tiny traces of infected feces.
  • Consuming food and drinks infected with poliovirus
  • Poliovirus, however, less commonly spreads through droplets from sneezes or coughs.
  • Additionally, objects like toys contaminated with feces can pose a risk.


Infected individuals can spread the poliovirus to others shortly before and up to two weeks after showing symptoms. The virus can persist in an infected individual's intestines for weeks, continuing to contaminate food and water sources. Even asymptomatic individuals can carry and pass on the virus to others, causing illness.


There are two types of vaccines available to prevent polio. The inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) and the oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV). The vaccines prepare children's immune systems to combat the polio virus, with over 99 per cent protection achievable by following the recommended IPV vaccine schedule. Polio typically affects young children. But people who haven’t been vaccinated are at a huge risk of getting polio.

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In addition to vaccination, practising proper hand hygiene and regular handwashing with soap and water is crucial. It's worth noting that alcohol-based hand sanitisers are significantly less effective against the poliovirus.


It is clear that polio is a debilitating disease, and it is important to take measures to protect against such an ailment. While finding a cure remains top of mind for biomedical researchers across the globe, understanding what causes polio can help individuals ensure they are engaging in activities that support public health. From avoiding contact with infected individuals and communities to practising effective sanitation techniques and encouraging widespread immunization efforts, there are many ways through which we can help prevent the spread of polio. Also, ensure that you have a health insurance plan in place to safeguard yourself against any financial stress. 

Disclaimer: The above blog aims to provide general information about health and related topics. Any information provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials is not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is important that you contact your Doctor before starting a new medicine or health regime.

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