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Acute anterior poliomyelitis


Acute anterior poliomyelitis is commonly referred to as "short-term polio." It is an infectious disease caused by a virus called "poliovirus", which attacks the nervous system and can cause total paralysis. Acute anterior poliomyelitis is a highly contagious disease that mainly affects children under the age of 5. In 95% of cases, the infection goes unnoticed, but in one case out of 200, is responsible for serious symptoms affecting the movement of neurons located in the anterior parts of the spinal cord. In children, the disease is also known as Heine-Medin disease, but it can also directly affect adults, where it is called acute spinal paralysis.


The symptoms of acute anterior poliomyelitis in its severe form, called acute spinal paralysis, are:
  • sudden onset of fever;
  • headaches;
  • stiffness in the neck and back;
  • aches, and for certain muscles deep muscle pain with atrophy;
  • a stopping of bone development, which generates large deformations;
  • irregular paralysis affecting several areas of the body evolving towards permanent paralysis.


The diagnosis of acute anterior poliomyelitis is difficult to make at the beginning of the disease, given the infectious symptoms it causes. It appears to be a simple nasopharyngitis or gastroenteritis. The paralytic from is easily recognized with the onset of the signs described above in a person who is poorly or not vaccinated. A lumbar puncture, or a blood test with serology, can confirm the diagnosis.


If the acute anterior poliomyelitis is benign, as in most cases, the treatment will consist of plenty of rest with the use of analgesics and antipyretics to stop the fever and pain. In severe cases (exceptional or non-existent in developed countries with mandatory vaccination), the only treatment is a treatment of symptoms associated with post-polio rehabilitation. This rehabilitation will prevent skeletal deformities and muscle atrophy. The lasting effects of "polio" can then be reduced by the use of prosthetic or orthopedic treatment.


Vaccination is compulsory. The vaccine against polio is associated with those against diphtheria and tetanus injection and is given at 2, 3 and 4 months, between 16 and 18 months, at 6 years of age, between 11 and 13, 16 and 18, then every 10 years throughout life.

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