Get A Drop And End Polio Virus

In 1955 vaccine for polio was introduced to the world. Dr. Jonas Salk introduced this inactivated Polio vaccine. Later Dr. Albert Sabin developed Oral Polio vaccine in 1961.Childhood vaccination had become a routine and up till 1999 Polio virus has been completely and successfully eradicated from the major developed countries. America has been declared as a completely Polio free region in 1994. Cuba, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica won the race earlier in1985 with the help of this supplemental mass administration of oral Polio vaccine as a routine administration.

Apart from these, 37 western countries followed the same strategies against the Polio Virus declared themselves free of Polio virus in 2000. European countries became free of this diseased virus in 2002.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria have not yet been certified as Polio free countries. According to WHO report, there are 26 million children in the world who are still not vaccinated.

Nigeria and Pakistan has shown an outbreak. Afghanistan declares persistent failure to fully vaccinate their children. However, on the lesser side, there were only 8 cases reported in India in the year of 2008 and so currently WHO has declared India ‘Polio Free’.

We and almost 5 million people of the world are walking today because of this Polio vaccine and the Polio eradication strategies introduced in 1988.

Poliomyelitis as the name of the disease indicates, there is an infection/ inflammation of the grey matter of the spinal cord (Polios, Grey + Myelos, Marrow + Itis, Inflammation), causing paralysis of the muscles of the body, especially of the limbs.

The Polio virus is an enterovirus, i.e. the virus proliferates in the intestine (Enteron, Intestine) of the patient concerned.

The infection occurs by ingestion of food/water contaminated with Polio virus, and the fecal matter of a patient or a carrier (i.e. the one who carries the Polio virus in the gut, but does not show symptoms of the disease), is the true source of infection.

Hence, upgrading hygienic conditions is an important aspect in the prevention of this disease.

The Polio virus may survive even for months in the sewage, i.e. in the waste matter in underground pipes or inside various passages. Further, the virus may be passed out in the feces of patients/carriers for many months, so that the source of infection remains almost continuous, especially during an epidemic.

The Polio virus multiplies in the gut of the man, and apart from passing out in the feces, it reaches the spinal cord through the various nerves. Or it may enter the blood stream and infect the spinal cord.

Since only motor nerve cells are involved, there is no sensory loss/impairment in the involved limb, in any of the cases of Poliomyelitis.

However, besides the lumbar and cervical portions of the spinal cord, the thoracic portion of the cord may also be damaged, leading to the paralysis of the muscles of the thorax, causing difficulty in breathing. At times respiratory paralysis may also occur, leading to a state of grave emergency.

Treatment of Poliomyelitis

There is no specific treatment which can stop the paralysis of the muscles, once it occurs, or bring about the full recovery of the muscles that are going to be affected permanently.

Since in some of these paralyzed muscles, contractures are likely to occur, and to begin with, one cannot say, which of the muscle/s will be permanently damaged, all the paralyzed limbs or part/s of the limb/s must be kept in their proper positions.

Early mobility/physiotherapy is the most important part of the treatment, to avoid contractures. However, surgical intervention may be required in some of the cases, so that the paralyzed limb can be used in the best possible way. Finally, orthopedic appliances may also be required so that the person is able to live satisfactorily, as far as possible.

Overall, Polio vaccines have improved the lives of billions of people worldwide, eradicating many diseases or reducing them to small, manageable outbreaks.

Getting vaccinated protects the individual and the community. Hence, getting vaccinated against Polio is an obligation of living in a society to support the public good.