In 10 years, the world could be facing 200,000 cases of polio a year. Those are the numbers according to the World Health Organization (WHO) if the virus were to break out again.
In honor of World Polio Day (WPD), we’ll explore the disease that sowed panic in many of Elmwood Hills residence not that long ago.
World Polio Progress
While the WHOs figures can be frightening, the good news is that since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988,[i] polio cases have fallen by more than 99%. For comparison, in 2017 there were 22 incidents reported across the world compared to 350,000 at the start of the initiative.[ii]
Although 2018 marks 27 years of a poliovirus-free Americas,[iii] some parts of the world haven’t been as fortunate. Specifically, Asia and Africa still report cases[iv] and in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan the virus has had a steady presence.
What is Polio
Polio is a virus that typically affects kids under 5 but can target people of all ages who haven’t taken immunization.
It is generally classified in two forms: nonparalytic and paralytic.
Nonparalytic polio causes flu-like symptoms and lasts up to 10 days. This version isn’t dangerous and in involves the majority polio cases.
Paralytic polio is much more serious, however. Although symptoms can seem similar to its nonparalytic counterpart at first, after about a week, things get much worse. The victim can lose their reflexes and suffer severe muscle pain along with weak muscles and limbs. Even worse, the virus can cause muscle paralysis, trouble breathing, bone deformation, and in the worst case, death.
Poliovirus is highly contagious.[v] It can be transmitted through direct contact with someone carrying it or via water and food that was contaminated.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the virus. But on the bright side, the vaccine has been instrumental in leading to its worldwide eradication in a relative short amount of time.
So if not for anything else, let’s take a moment and be grateful for near extinction of this virus this World Polio Day.
Are there any polio survivors you can visit this World Polio Day?
Please share in the comments below.