Kicking Polio Out

By Kelly Louiseize
Editor Jennifer J Lacelle
July 07, 21

In a world that saw 75,000 children infected with polio in the 1990s, new reports are surfacing indicating only two countries are left with afflicted children: Pakistan and Afghanistan. In May of 2014, the WHO declared an emergency with the resurgence of the virus in Africa and Middle East.

Currently, in the two countries still strongly affected, there are 56 positive cases, and 84 respectively, have been identified in children under five years of age.

The virus is very contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact, hiding in the throat and intestines. According to the CDC, it can be contracted through contact with feces and water droplets from a sneeze or cough (both from infected people).

While the majority of those infected won’t have any symptoms, one in four can exhibit many flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, fever, fatigue and headache (not an exhaustive list). People with these signs will likely feel better in under a week, but a small proportion of the infected can experience paresthesia, meningitis, or paralysis — these affect the spinal cord and / or brain as well as nervous system.

The virus can be spread from the infected before the appearance of symptoms, and two weeks afterward, though the virus can live in the body for weeks. The most vulnerable of the population are children under five, though no one is entirely safe from the virus.

It actually prompted the invention of the Iron Lung in 1930, which was supposed to help people whose lungs were infected. Prior to 1955 when the Salk vaccine was introduced, tens of thousands of Canadians were left crippled and paralyzed from the virus. Though, in 1959 about 2,000 Canadians were left paralyzed from the virus.

In 1979, in the Philippines, Rotary International announced their mission to eradicate this paralyzing disease and has since reduced its global presence by 99.9%.

According to their website, countless voluntary hours and well over $2 billion in efforts have saved more than three billion children in 122 countries. Their voice was heard all the way up the government chain where $10 billion was dispensed toward the effort.

Since COVD-19, many projects like the Polio eradication initiative have been challenged. Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH director for the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says in an End Polio Now video uploaded to Twitter that millions of children missed their 2020 needle.

A new strategy to cover lost ground means partnering with other organizations to combine efforts and fortify a strong push towards the end of completely wiping polio off the planet.

Michael McGovern, chair of the International Polio Plus Committee for Rotary International says they have come so far in this fight against the disease that they cannot afford to stop now.

If all efforts stopped, in 10 years 200,000 children would be infected each year. Total vaccination in 2017 amounted to 413 million with each dose costing three dollars.

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