Recognizing World Polio Day

Contributed by Narine Arabyan

October 24th is recognized as World Polio Day. Poliomyelitis (polio) is highly infectious virus that affects young children. This virus is spread from person to person through the faecal-oral route or through contaminated water or food. The virus then resides and multiplies in the intestines, invades the nervous system by destroying nerve cells in the spinal cord causing muscle wasting and paralysis. There is no cure for polio; however it can only be prevented by immunization. In 1988, 350,000 cases of polio were recorded worldwide according to World Health Organization (WHO). This same year WHO initiated global efforts to eradicate polio and relied heavily on the oral polio vaccine containing weakened forms of strains of polio viruses developed by Albert Sabin and Mikhail Chumakov. Since 1988, polio cases have been reduced by 99.9%. Polio was eliminated in the Americas by 1994. This is all thanks to polio vaccination; however, polio has not been completely eradicated yet. In 2016, still a total of 27 cases of polio were recorded in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. 27 total cases of polio seems very few, however the road to eradication is not easy.

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