Type your tag names separated by a space and hit enter


Polio is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

To view the entire topic, please or purchase a subscription.

Emergency Central is a collection of disease, drug, and test information including 5-Minute Emergency Medicine Consult, Davis’s Drug, McGraw-Hill Medical’s Diagnosaurus®, Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests, and MEDLINE Journals created for emergency medicine professionals. Explore these free sample topics:

Emergency Central

-- The first section of this topic is shown below --



  • Caused by poliovirus infection
  • Incubation period 7–14 days
  • Duration <1 wk
  • Clinical manifestations are defined as follows:
    • Subclinical (i.e., not apparent) 90–95%
    • Abortive poliomyelitis 4–8%:
      • Clinically indistinct from many other viral infections (fever, myalgias, malaise)
      • Only suspected to be polio during an epidemic
    • Nonparalytic poliomyelitis 1–2%:
      • Differs from abortive poliomyelitis by the presence of meningeal irritation
      • Course similar to any aseptic meningitis
    • Paralytic poliomyelitis 0.1%, which is further subdivided:
      • Spinal paralytic poliomyelitis (frank polio)
      • Bulbar paralytic poliomyelitis (10% of paralytic polio): Paralysis of muscle groups innervated by cranial nerves; involves the circulatory and respiratory centers of the medulla with high mortality
      • Mixed bulbospinal poliomyelitis
    • Postpoliomyelitis syndrome:
      • New onset of increased muscle weakness, pain, and focal or generalized atrophy
      • Occurs 8–70 yr after the active illness, usually in the previously affected limb
      • Risk factors include age at time of infection, extent of recovery and female sex (increased risk with better recovery)
      • Gradual progression


  • Polioviruses:
    • Picornaviruses
    • Small, nonenveloped RNA viruses of the enterovirus genera
    • 3 subtypes: 1, 2, 3
  • Fecal–oral route transmission
    • Enters through oral cavity
    • Replicates in pharynx, GI tract, and lymphatics
  • Humans are the only natural host and reservoir
  • Poliovirus selectively destroys motor and autonomic neurons
  • Natural (wild) virus has been completely eliminated in US since 1979
  • Oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV):
    • Accounts for only poliomyelitis seen in US
      • 8–10 cases/yr of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis (VAP): Neurovirulent conversion of vaccine virus; decreased since widespread use of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV)
      • VAP occurs in poorly immunized regions by acquiring properties of wild-type virus.
      • There has been a recent increase in some third word countries

-- To view the remaining sections of this topic, please or purchase a subscription --


Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Polio." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307171/all/Polio.
Polio. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307171/all/Polio. Accessed April 23, 2019.
Polio. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307171/all/Polio
Polio [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 23]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307171/all/Polio.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Polio ID - 307171 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307171/all/Polio PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -