October 24 is World Polio Day, which was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Polio, explains the World Health Organization, is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease with no cure. However there are safe and effective vaccines which can prevent one from getting the disease.
We share some facts on polio, courtesy of www.who.int:
- Polio still paralyses children — the disease still exists in some places around the world, and mainly affects children under the age of five. According to The World Health Organization, one in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis (usually in the legs), and among those paralysed, five to 10 percent die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
- Cheap and effective vaccines are available to prevent polio.
- The global effort to eradicate polio is the largest public-private partnership for public health
- Experts are 99 percent of the way to eradicating polio globally.
- There are three countries which have never stopped transmission of polio — Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
- Unlike most diseases, polio can be completely eradicated.
Polio Symptoms mayoclinic.org shares some symptoms with us:
- Sore throat
- Back pain or stiffness
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Pain or stiffness in the arms or legs
- Muscle weakness or tenderness
- Loss of reflexes
- Severe muscle aches or weakness
- Loose and floppy limbs (flaccid paralysis), often worse on one side of the body
Polio Risk Factors
If you haven’t been vaccinated these could increase your risk of getting the disease:
- Traveling to an area where polio is common or that has recently experienced an outbreak
- Living with or caring for someone who may be shedding poliovirus
- A compromised immune system, such as occurs with HIV infection
- Having had your tonsils removed
- Extreme stress or strenuous physical activity after being exposed to poliovirus, both of which can depress your immune system