‘72% susceptible persons infected with polio have no symptoms’


-Says Health Ministry official

February 29, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Deputy Programme Manager of Child Health/Expanded Programme on Immunization in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has revealed that up to about 72% of susceptible persons infected with polio show no symptoms at all.

Dr. Mariama Murray said infected persons without symptoms could still spread the poliomyelitis virus to others, but added that polio infection is mostly unseen because only 0.5%-1% of children infected with the disease develop paralysis.

According to her, 24% of infected susceptible persons have minor symptoms such as fever, sore throats, upset stomach or flu-like symptoms, instead of paralysis or other serious symptoms.

“About 1-5% develop aseptic meningitis with stiffness of the back or legs and in some persons increased or abnormal sensations a few days after the minor illness resolves. The symptoms typically last from two to ten days, followed by complete recovery,” she stated.

She maintained that less than 1% of polio cases result in paralysis of the limbs, adding that of those cases resulting in paralysis, 5-10% of patients die when the respiratory muscles are paralysed.

Dr. Murray noted that an importation of polio virus could result in undetected and wide-spread transmission, although she stressed that the safest way to prevent re-introduction of wild polio virus transmission was to ensure high level of population immunity against polio through campaigns.

With support from the World Health Organization and UNICEF, the health ministry last Friday (26 February) commenced the first round of free polio vaccination to children under the age of five years.

The exercise ends today (Monday, 29 February) with over one million children expected to have been vaccinated.

According to Dr. Murray, the goal of the exercise was to ensure the reduction in morbidity and mortality of women and children through increasing the coverage of various life saving interventions.