Polio is a crippling, lethal disease that can be spread person-to-person through the air, contact, and human waste. Once a dreaded threat every summer, polio cases are drastically less frequent, decreasing 99 percent since 1988 (down to 287 in 2013 from 350,000 in 1988). Thanks to Jonas Salk, the CDC, and the WHO, a vaccine was developed and has been distributed all across the world.
What is Polio?
Scientifically named poliomyelitis, polio is caused by the poliovirus. The virus targets certain cells in the body that dictate muscle movement. A concerning fact about polio is that about 75% of infected people will not show any visible symptoms. However, 3-4% of those infected will develop:
- Paresthesia (feeling of pins and needles in the legs)
- Meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain)
Where is Polio Today?
This deadly disease is largely secluded to a few countries in Africa and the Middle East: Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan.
What is World Polio Day?
World Polio Day is a day to spread awareness and eradicate polio once and for all. With the CDC’s partners like the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Rotary International, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, efforts are proving fruitful. There are, on average, 42 people per day working on eradication in the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center.
World Polio Day is focused on eliminating polio in the three remaining endemic countries. More than 2.5 Billion children have been immunized against polio, and over 115,000 have signed on with the Rotary. Check out endpolio.org on October 24th at 6:30pm CST for the Rotary’s live-stream event.
What Can I Do to Help?
- Sign the petition to join the Rotary and be a part of a Guinness World Record
- Donate to the cause
- Spread awareness by using #worldpolioday
- Ensure you and your loved ones have the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV)
Where Can I Get the Polio Vaccine?
The vaccine is available at all Passport Health locations. Find a clinic near you to receive a polio vaccination.
Schedule an appointment with a travel health specialist if you are planning to travel and to see if you’re up-to-date with your routine vaccinations and any that may be recommended or required for your destination.
Leave a comment here on what’s being done in your communities to help eradicate polio!