Poliomyelitis (polio) is a highly infectious viral disease transmitted by contaminated drinking water and sewage. There are three types of wild polioviruses: serotype 1, 2, and 3. The polioviruses replicate in the gastrointestinal tract and further invade the nervous system, and can cause permanent limb paralysis. While polio can strike at any age, it mainly affects children under age 5. Vaccination against polio is the best way to prevent polio disease. There are two types of vaccines currently used against polio—a live oral polio vaccine (OPV) delivered as oral drops, and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) delivered via injection. Due to global vaccinations and improved sanitary conditions, the world is very close to eradicating polio. Over 2.5 billion children have been vaccinated since 1988 and the number of polio cases per year is down by 99 percent. Currently the poliovirus serotype 2 has been eradicated globally and types 1 and 3 combined cause fewer than three hundred cases worldwide. While there has been remarkable progress in polio eradication, more affordable vaccines are needed to complete the job of eradicating polio and maintain protection post eradication.

More about polio | View resources on polio

Key resources

Polio Eradication & Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018 (2013)
A document that provides a comprehensive, long-term strategy for delivering a polio-free world by 2018.

A website that presents the latest polio campaign monitoring and communication data collected on behalf of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative Partners.

Featured PATH resources

More About Polio (2013)
A web page that provides an overview of polio, a snapshot of the current vaccine landscape, and links to additional information about the disease.

Improving the Affordability of Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccines (IPV) for Use in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: An Economic Analysis of Strategies to Reduce the Cost of Routine IPV Immunization (2010)
A report that presents results from an economic model that calculates the costs of delivering IPV in India.

Page last updated: October 2013.