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Polio Virus Does New Harm in at Least 80% of Aging Survivors

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Like the virus that causes chicken pox, then retreats for decades only to re-emerge as shingles, the polio virus that infected countless thousands in the developed world until the mid-1960s has been causing muscle weakness, pains and fatigue in often unsuspecting and undiagnosed survivors as they reach their 50’s & beyond.

Reactivating, or Just Lingering Damage?

Some researchers believe the polio virus is reactivating, while others suspect the symptoms may be caused by “abnormal regrowth of nerves damaged by the original infection.” Apparently nobody knows for sure. But ‘post polio’ symptoms do appear to affect or threaten at least 80% of survivors, according to an article by Lois Rogers featured August 9 in the UK’s Daily Mail“How polio has returned to haunt its victims in old age.”

Millions of Possible Sufferers

Estimates put the number of ‘known’ polio survivors across Europe at 700,000, with 120,000 in the UK, Rogers reports, while the NIH puts the US survivor population at 440,000. But most physicians today have never seen polio, which is carried via saliva, mucus or feces and at its worst attacks the brain & central nervous system. So most physicians are ill-prepared to note symptoms indicative of post polio syndrome; though sophisticated tests such as those suggested by the Mayo Clinic can provide a diagnosis.(1, 2)

Further, even a check of a patient’s health history may not clue physicians in to the earlier polio, because at the time of the great 20th Century epidemics an estimated 95% of cases involved flu-like symptoms that could be so minor the person may not even be aware they were ever infected. Of the remaining 5%, the virus (an ‘enterovirus’ that infects the throat and intestinal tract first) moves into the lining of the brain & spinal cord, causing encephalitis (inflammation), and in 1% to 2% invades the motor neurons to cause muscle paralysis, weakness, and pain.(1) 

Projects and Trials

Read the Daily Mail article to learn more about people affected by post polio syndrome, and about Prof. Carolyn Young, a neurologist at The Walton Centre in Liverpool, “who is leading the first research project on the syndrome, in more than 200 people aged 50 and over.”(3)

A review of ClinicalTrials.gov brings up a few other projects, including one just initiated at the University of Michigan involving supplementation with the potent antioxidant L-glutathione.(4)

Smoldering Risk of New Epidemics?

Sadly also, the risk of polio lives on, since fears about vaccination in certain parts of the world allow polio to persist and potentially allow transmission of emerging strains via international travel.



1. Information on Post Polio Syndrome at the British Polio Fellowship sitehttp://www.britishpolio.org.uk/PolioSyndrome/AboutPostpolio.aspx For example, the site notes, PPS usually begins very slowly, and can seem to be triggered by events like falls, surgery or immobility.

2. A description at MayoClinic.com of tests that can be done to rule out other conditions and diagnose post polio syndrome. These include nerve conduction studies, imaging, blood tests, and muscle biopsy.

3. Information on Dr. Young’s post polio research  –  including study descriptions, an invitation to participate, a press release (“Groundbreaking research gives UK’s forgotten polio community new hope”), and answers to frequently asked questions about the study.

4. Information about a new US trial of glutathione supplementation for symptoms of post polio syndrome, just launched in July 2011 at the University of Michigan: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01402570. Glutathione (aka L-Glutathione) is a naturally occurring antioxidant and amino acid known to support cell health and integrity. Read about the trial and its inclusion/exclusion criteria at http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01402570?term=Post-Polio+Syndrome&rank=5

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2 thoughts on “Polio Virus Does New Harm in at Least 80% of Aging Survivors”

  1. bertLasagna says:

    I have bouts of what I told my doctor was minor outbreaks of Polio. I did suggest to him, at that time several years ago, that the Chicken Pox Virus lays in wait to become Shingle so why could not the Polio Virus come back to haunt those that suffered polio many years ago. When I have an attack I have aching muscles in my arms and legs and usually have a fever of about 101-102 whereas my normal body temp is about 96.8 to 97.2, therefore, I do have a high fever based on my norm. He just said it couldn’t happen but I argued with him as many doctors are just not aware of Post Polio problems. Hopefully this dreaded disease will be gone in another twenty-five years if those across the world will accept the help of the vaccine. Yes, in my opinion it does return and does two to five times a years!

  2. bertLasagna says:

    Getting older, however a new problem began several months ago. I’m having vibrating sensation which started in my legs several years ago and I dismissed it as feeling the vibrating of a large water pump several miles from my home. Later the vibrating started working up in to my thighs, buttocks,and then into my back and diaphragm. When it reached my diaphragm it felt as I could not breath properly but was actually breathing normal. I also though my heart was racing or something but it was not. I did notice an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. The vibrating woke me this morning about 3 AM and I was not able to go back to sleep. My doctor put me on Gabapentin some months ago for bone pain. I stopped taking it due to a slight weight gain and unsteadiness. This morning I took one and it seemed to diminish to vibrating slightly, therefore I will take the normal dose for a week or so to see if it prevents it. I have finally got an appointment with a neurologist after trying for 4-1/2 months!@#@! The appointment is in twelve days from this date and I will advise what the neurologist has to comment on. There is a so-called PPS doctor in this city, one I have seen twice when I started having trouble, 1997 and 2008 and both times he started me off as a new patient having assistants look at my problems. I wanted to see him again but the only appointment was over a year away!
    Doctors just don’t know the problems PPS patients are putting up with and I guess we will all die off in a few years so I guess the say: Why bother! Good luck to everything that is suffering from PPS and if anyone out there is experiencing the vibrating sensations please post it on this site.

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