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Polio is a reportable disease in Oklahoma. Polio is a viral disease, which may affect the central nervous system. Since polio immunization has become widespread, cases of polio are very rare. Transmission of wild poliovirus was interrupted in the United States in 1979, or possibly earlier. A polio eradication program conducted by the Pan American Health Organization led to elimination of polio in the Western Hemisphere in 1991. The Global Polio Eradication Program has dramatically reduced poliovirus transmission throughout the world. In 2005, only 1,948 confirmed cases of polio were reported globally, and polio was endemic in six countries.

Most infections do not cause serious illness and most persons infected do not have symptoms. However, if symptoms occur it may include fever, tiredness, headache, nausea, stiffness in the neck, pain in the limbs, or vomiting. These symptoms will usually occur six to 20 days after exposure but can range from three to 35 days. However, some people who get polio become paralyzed, that is, they lose the use of their muscles. This is called paralytic polio. Paralytic polio can start like a common cold, but often with severe muscle pain. Paralysis usually comes within the first week. Most often it affects the legs, but sometimes it affects other muscles including those that control breathing. Some recover from their paralysis, but many will be permanently disabled.

Anyone who has not been vaccinated can get the disease. Because there are people throughout the world and in the United States that are not vaccinated, it is possible that infected travelers can carry polio to unvaccinated people. 

Polio is a reportable disease in Oklahoma. 


Polio is best prevented by the polio vaccine. The vaccine covers all three types of polio virus. There are two vaccines, an oral polio vaccine (OPV) and an inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). Currently only the IPV is given in the United States. The OPV has not been used in the United States since 2000 but is still given in many parts of the world. Contact your healthcare provider for more information regarding the vaccine. 

If you see symptoms similar to polio, contact your healthcare provider or seek emergency care immediately. It is important to note that most people who get infected with polio will not have symptoms and there is no specific treatment or cure. 

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