First Aid

Polio, more properly known as poliomyelitis, was one of the most feared and studied diseases in the first half of the Twentieth Century (Sass, 1). This disease has paralyzed thousands in American history (Health Education Facts Sheet, 1). Polio struck its victims, mostly children under the age of three, as it appeared unpredictably bringing on a panic in the 1940s and 50s. Then, a break through occurred when Jonas Salk’s research established an effective vaccine to the poliovirus. Today, the fear of obtaining the poliovirus has been banished from children and parent’s nightmares (PICO, 3).

There are three viruses that can cause polio: type I, II, and III. The viral disease can range from a mild, sometimes unnoticed, infection to muscle paralysis and death. The viruses get into the body giving the host several symptoms like paralysis, fever, neck stiffness, nausea, and weakness in the muscle groups. There are three different kinds of the polio disease: spinal polio, non-paralytic polio, and paralytic polio (Diseases, 106).

Spinal polio is the most common form of the poliovirus. It occurs when the polioviruses attack the nerve cells and begins to control the muscles of the legs, arms, trunk, diaphragm, abdomen, and pelvis (World Book Encyclopedia, 497).

The non-paralytic form of polio has many symptoms including nausea, headache, sore throat, back pain, neck pain, stiffness, moderate fever, vomiting, irritability, and sluggishness. The non-paralytic form changes the host’s reflex and elevates its fluid count. This form of the polio disease lasts about one week with back pain persisting for about two weeks. About 65% of known cases during the outbreak of polio were non-paralytic (What Are the Symptoms…,1).

Paralytic polio usually develops about five to seven days after the beginning of the fever. The symptoms are similar to non-paralytic polio with muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, extra sensitivity to touch, urine retention, constipation, and bloating....