World Polio Day 2023
"From Awareness to Action: Polio Ends Here!"
Imagine entering a vibrant global celebration where people from all corners unite to mark October 24th as World Polio Day. It is not just any ordinary day but a day pulsating with energy and purpose, dedicated to a cause that can transform lives.
Picture this: a world where the word "polio" is just a distant memory, where children can run and play freely without fear. This vision is what world polio day is all about. Created by Rotary International, it is a day that lights up the calendar to honor the birthday of Jonas Salk, the brilliant mind behind the first polio vaccine.
Step beyond mere celebrations; let us unravel the mystery of polio. Discover its secrets, recognize its signs, and learn how to shield ourselves. On this world polio day, let's not just mark the occasion; let's embark on a journey to a polio-free world. Together, we can make history and ensure a healthier future for future generations!
What Is Poliomyelitis?
Poliomyelitis, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), commonly shortened as polio, is a highly contagious viral disease mainly caused by the poliovirus. This virus is transmitted mostly from person to person through the fecal-oral route or contaminated water and food. It invades the central nervous system and can result in paralysis (unable to make voluntary muscle movements). It primarily affects individuals with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, and children under five.
Polio Uncovered: 7 Key Facts!
- Polio primarily impacts children under five years old, leading to irreversible paralysis in one out of every 200 infections. Tragically, 5-10% of those paralyzed die due to immobilized breathing muscles.
- Cases caused by the wild poliovirus have decreased by more than 99% since 1988, dropping from an estimated 3,50,000 cases to just six reported cases in 2021.
- The risk remains global: as long as a single child is infected, all countries' children are vulnerable to polio. Failing to eradicate polio from these last strongholds could trigger a worldwide disease recurrence.
- In contrast to many diseases, polio has the potential for complete eradication. Three strains of wild poliovirus exist, none of which can endure outside the human body for extended periods. If the virus cannot locate an unvaccinated individual to infect, it will naturally extinguish. Notably, type 2 wild poliovirus was eradicated in 1999, and type 3 cases of wild poliovirus have not been reported anywhere globally since 2012.
- The global effort against polio has strengthened capacities in numerous countries, enhancing their ability to combat various infectious diseases. This progress has been achieved by establishing effective surveillance and immunization systems.
- Only three countries have never halted polio transmission—Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. These nations confront various obstacles, including insecurity, fragile healthcare infrastructures, and inadequate sanitation. The risk persists as polio can spread from these endemic countries, infecting children in other nations lacking sufficient vaccination coverage.
- In 2011, the last child was paralyzed by polio in India. By 2014, the country achieved a historic milestone by not reporting any Wild Poliovirus (WPV) cases for three consecutive years. Consequently, India was certified as a "polio-free country," along with other nations in the South East Asia Region (SEAR) of the WHO.
Watch Out For The Following Symptoms Of Polio
- Asymptomatic Infections
Most poliovirus carriers show no symptoms of the disease.
- Mild Polio (Abortive Polio)
Approximately 5% of infected individuals experience mild symptoms resembling the flu, lasting 2 to 3 days. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, stomachache, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting.
- Moderate Polio (Nonparalytic Polio)
About 1% of those infected suffer from nonparalytic polio, enduring intensified flu-like symptoms and additional discomfort such as neck stiffness, limb aches, and severe headaches. Later stages might include spine and neck stiffness, decreased reflexes, and muscle weakness.
- Severe Polio (Paralytic Polio)
This rare and severe form initially exhibits symptoms akin to nonparalytic polio. Still, it progresses to intense pain, heightened sensitivity, tingling sensations, muscle spasms, and eventual limb paralysis. Various limbs can be affected, with leg paralysis being the most common, followed by arm paralysis. Breathing muscle paralysis and swallowing difficulties are also possible, depending on the disease's severity.
- Post-Polio Syndrome
Occurring decades after the initial infection, this syndrome introduces new or worsened symptoms, including progressive muscle or joint weakness, fatigue, muscle wasting, breathing or swallowing problems, and increased sensitivity to cold temperatures.
Transmission Of Polio
Polio is transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or contact with an infected person's feces (fecal-oral route). It has the potential to spread through:
- Leaving your hands unwashed after using the restroom or changing diapers.
- Droplets from an infected person's coughing or sneezing.
- Being in close contact with a polio patient.
- Touching infected objects or surfaces.
- Consuming contaminated water or food
- Swimming in contaminated water
Polio infection is diagnosed by performing a physical examination, obtaining a detailed medical history, including recent vaccinations and travel information, collecting samples (throat swab, stool, urine, blood, and spinal fluid), and getting an MRI to examine the spinal cord. Poliovirus is most likely to be found in stool samples.
Polio Prevention: Empowering Lives Through Vaccination
Still, there is no known cure or treatment for polio. Physical or occupational therapy can treat polio-related arm or leg weakness, which may also enhance long-term effectiveness. If your breathing muscles are weakened or paralyzed due to polio, you will require mechanical ventilation, a machine that assists you in breathing.
How Can I Prevent Polio?
The most reliable way to prevent polio is through polio vaccination. Usually, vaccinations are given to children. There are two polio vaccines: inactivated and oral (live-attenuated). Inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) is injected into the leg or arm based on the patient's age. Since the year 2000, IPV only has been used in the United States. The oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) is still widely used in many parts of the world.
"Vaccinate to Annihilate: Polio's Endgame Starts with You!"
Recommended polio vaccination schedule: Children receive their first dose of the polio vaccine at two months old, their second dose at four months, their third dose between six and eighteen months, and their booster dose between four and six years old. Children who have not completed their polio vaccine or received all recommended doses should begin as soon as possible. Adults who have never had the polio vaccine should get three doses of IPV. The first dose can be taken whenever you like, the second dose is given one to two months later, and the third dose is given six to twelve months following the second dose.
National Immunization Schedule (NIS) For Polio In India
Vaccine & its presentation
Number of doses
OPV (Oral Polio Vaccine) - Liquid vaccine
Birth dose for institutional deliveries, Primary three doses at 6, 10 & 14 weeks, and one booster dose at 16-24 months of age. Given orally.
Vaccinate, Let's End Polio
On this world polio day 2023, spread the word to learn about polio, its transmission, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Educate your friends and family about the importance of polio vaccination because there is no cure or treatment for Poliomyelitis. Remember, vaccination is our strongest weapon against polio. On this International Polio Day, vaccinate your kids and make our nation polio-free.
"Get A Drop, Stop The Strop!"