October 24 is celebrated as World Polio Day to mark the birthday of Jonas Salk. It was Salk who led the team that discovered the polio vaccine. Polio, a disease caused by the poliovirus, is known to affect children, causing damage to the nervous system. It eventually causes paralysis and atrophy of muscles. Although many developing countries like India have managed to eradicate polio, the disease has remerged in some parts of the world where vaccination drives have been interrupted due to political instability. On World Polio Day 2019, let’s check out some of the deadliest facts about the disease. ‘Don’t Give Polio Drops To Children Under 5’ Fake WhatsApp Forward Spreads Fake News About Polio Vaccines.
- Polio has been around for 3,000 years. The earliest depiction of polio was in 1580 BC on a stone engraving, showing a crippled man.
- Before vaccines were invented, almost all children were infected with poliovirus in their early lives.
- Michael Underwood, a British physician, was the first to give a description of polio in 1789.
- Poliomyelitis or polio affects the nervous system, which may lead to paralysis and death.
- Most victims of polio are children under age five.
- There are three outcomes of poliovirus – no symptoms, non-paralytic polio or paralysis.
- Although paralysis is associated with polio, only two percent of the children affected get paralysed. But 98 percent of them suffer from some form of symptoms.
- But despite not showing symptoms, people infected by polio can still infect others.
- Humans are the only living reservoirs for poliovirus.
- The non-living reservoirs for poliovirus are faeces, sewage and contaminated water.
- Once inside the human body, the poliovirus multiplies inside the intestines.
- The infected person is most infectious from seven to ten days before and after the first symptoms of polio appear.
- Polio is mostly thought to affect the limbs. But in some cases, it can paralyse respiratory muscles, making breathing impossible.
- According to CDC, the number of polio cases has declined more than 99 percent from 1988. All the three strains of poliovirus can't survive if they can't find a person to infect. And it will eventually fo completely extinct.
- All the three strains of poliovirus can't survive if they can't find a person to infect. And it will eventually go extinct.
- The Americas, Europe, South East Asia and the Western Pacific are considered polio-free.
- Three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan – are still struggling with polio eradication as of 2019.
- India eradicated polio in 2014. But in 2018, type 2 poliovirus was found in the stools of children from Uttar Pradesh. But given India’s aggressive vaccination drives, it’s unlikely that the disease returns. Will Polio Return to India? Contaminated Vaccines Raise Concerns That the Eradicated Disease May Strike Again.
Polio is a deadly disease which is highly contagious. Although in many parts of the world, polio has been completely uprooted, every year, World Polio Day is observed on October 24 to remind the world of the importance of eliminating the disease from countries where it is still endemic. But unlike other diseases, polio can be eradicated completely from the face of the earth. Better awareness on the part of governments and communities are therefore required to expunge the disease completely.