infantile paralysis

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


poliomyelitis (pōˌlēōmīˌəlīˈtĭs), polio, or infantile paralysis, acute viral infection, mainly of children but also affecting older persons. Historically, there were three immunologic types of poliomyelitis virus, but two of three types of the wild virus have been eradicated; exposure to one type produced immunity only to that type, so infection with another type was still possible. Spread of the infection is primarily through contact with an infected person. Most people who contract polio either exhibit no symptoms or experience only minor illness; however, such individuals can harbor the virus and spread it to others. Less than 1% of the people who get infected develop paralysis.

The virus enters the body by way of the mouth, invades the bloodstream, and may be carried to the central nervous system, where it causes lesions of the gray matter of the spinal cord and brain. The illness begins with fever, headache, stiff neck and back, and muscle pain and tenderness. If there is involvement of the central nervous system, paralysis ensues. Of those patients who develop paralytic poliomyelitis, about 25% sustain severe permanent disability, another 25% have mild disabilities, and 50% recover with no residual paralysis. The disease is usually fatal if the nerve cells in the brain are attacked (bulbar poliomyelitis), causing paralysis of essential muscles, such as those controlling swallowing, heartbeat, and respiration. There is no specific drug for treatment. For reasons not clearly understood, some people who have had severe polio experience postpolio syndrome, a condition in which new weakness and pain occurs years later in previously affected muscles.

The incidence of poliomyelitis declined radically in the United States when a mass immunization program with the Salk vaccine, a preparation made from killed organisms and injected, was begun in 1955. A live-virus vaccine had earlier been developed (1948) by Hilary Koprowski, but it was never approved for use in the United States. By 1961 the Sabin vaccine, a preparation made from weakened living organisms and taken orally, was released for use. Since then the disease has been virtually eliminated in the Americas, Europe, and Australasia, but vaccination programs continue because of polio's existence in other parts of the world (mainly areas of South Asia and West Africa) and the ease of travel.

In 1988 the World Health Organization began a global vaccination campaign to eradicate the disease—which continued to paralyze hundreds of thousands of children each year—by 2000. Although the date of eradication was later pushed back to 2005 (and even later a set deadline was abandoned), there were by 2003 less than a thousand new cases of polio worldwide. In 2003–4, however, the campaign was slowed when Muslim states in N Nigeria refused to use vaccines they believed would sterilize women, leading to an increase in cases there and in neighboring countries and to outbreaks of the disease in 17 countries including Yemen and Indonesia. Since then there have been other outbreaks, from various sources, in some African nations, in Central Asia, in Syria (as a result of its civil war), and in Papua New Guinea. The last known case of type 2 poliomyelitis occurred in 1999, and that of type 3 in 2012. In 2016 the formulation of the vaccine was altered to remove the eradicated type 2 poliovirus. According to WHO, endemic transmission of wild polio continues to occur only Afghanistan and Pakistan. Outbreaks of polio due to inadequate community vaccination levels that do not prevent the natural transmission and occasional mutation of the weakened strain used in the vaccine continue to occur in some areas free of wild polio.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

infantile paralysis

[′in·fən‚tīl pə′ral·ə·səs]
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Poliomyelitis, ('infantile paralysis'), is caused by an enterovirus, spread by droplets or by the faeco-oral route.
Salk's efforts attracted the attention and funding from The National Foudation for Infantile Paralysis (later called the March of Dimes), which enabled him to work full time on polio.
This tale of how polio was conquered in the US in the mid-20th century is mainly concerned with the personalities involved: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, himself a polio victim, who used his private wealth to set up the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis; Basil O'Connor, the hard-driving Chair of the Foundation, handpicked by Roosevelt, whose passion for finding a vaccine led him to support promising researchers throughout the country, and to take enormous risks in testing the vaccine; and, of course, Salk, Sabin, and an army of researchers, including John Enders, whose discovery that the polio virus could be grown outside of nerve tissue earned him a Nobel Prize.
1957: Elvis Presley donated thousands of teddy bears to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis
From 1953-1955, as a consultant to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, Dublin served as the medical field director helping test Salk's experimental polio vaccine.
Furthermore, in the 1930s, polio was known as "infantile paralysis." This was before the breakthroughs of Salk and Sabin, so most people knew one or more victims of the disease, and there was no mystery.
(5.) International Committee for the Study of Infantile Paralysis. Poliomyelitis.
Of course Christopher Clausen ["The President and the Wheelchair," WQ, Summer '05] is right when he says that Frank Freidel and Arthur Schlesinger Jr., in their books about Franklin Delano Roosevelt written in the 1950s, "treat his polio and its physical manifestations matter-of-factly, as if every well-informed person knew at least the essentials of his condition and had known at the time." I think you could delete "well-informed." What with the publicity roused by Warm Springs and the March of Dimes and the parental panic caused by infantile paralysis, every sane voter knew that America's president was crippled by polio.
The fight was spearheaded by organizations such as the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, created by President Franklin Roosevelt, himself a polio victim.
The research was funded by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, today known as the March of Dimes.

Full browser ?