This untreatable virus gives some people flu-like symptoms and nausea and 1 in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis.

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Key Facts around Polio

The world-wide vaccination campaign has led to a 99% decrease in polio cases compared to 1988.1


  • How do people catch this disease?

    • The polio virus spreads from person to person.1,3
    • You can get it by eating food or drinking water contaminated by faeces of someone who has the virus, or from coughs and sneezes.1,3
  • Which countries are affected?

    Most countries are now free of polio. The risk of polio is greatest in Asia and Africa.2

  • What are the symptoms?

    Fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiffness of the neck and pain in the limbs.1,3

  • How serious is the disease?

    Polio can be fatal. Severe polio causes paralysis of the legs and arms, and sometimes of the muscles used to breathe.1,3

  • Can I reduce the chances of catching the disease?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

  1. World Health Organization. Factsheet. Poliomyelitis. July 2022. Available online: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/poliomyelitis (Last accessed May 2023)
  2. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Available online: https://polioeradication.org/polio-today/polio-now/ (Last accessed May 2023)
  3. Gesundheit. GV.AT. Polio. Available online: https://www.gesundheit.gv.at/lexikon/p/lexikon-poliomyelitis1 (Last accessed May 2023)

May 2023
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