How is polio diagnosed?

The doctor will ask questions about the patient’s symptoms and medical history, including whether he or she has recently traveled to areas where cases of polio were reported. The doctor will perform a physical examination.

Symptoms of polio may resemble those of other viral diseases, so tests will be required to rule out other causes. If the doctor suspects you have the virus, stool specimens and throat swabs will be collected for testing. Two stool specimens and 2 throat swabs should be collected 24 hours apart. Specimens should be obtained as early as possible after the onset of disease, preferably within 14 days. Blood samples might also be collected for analysis.

A lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may be performed to collect cerebrospinal fluid to look for evidence of the polio virus infection.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/07/2014.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy