World Polio Day
World Polio Day is observed on October 24th every year. This day was marked as World Polio Day by Rotary International to commemorate the birth of Dr Jonas Salk who developed the polio vaccine in 1953, thus bringing about a drastic reduction in the incidence of this debilitating disease. According to a survey in 2013 cases of polio reduced by 99% globally.
Polio or poliomyelitis is a viral infection which is very contagious. It is caused by a wild polio virus and can be a mild to severe infection, followed by paralysis in some parts
of the body. The virus enters the body through the mouth, multiplies in the intestines and destroys the motor neuron cells, which control the muscles for swallowing, circulation and breathing, as well as the arms, legs and the body.
Polio usually affects children between the age group of 5-7 years. Its symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Muscle weakness
- Pain or stiffness in the neck, back, arms or legs
These symptoms last up to 10 days after the infection occurs. Some of the severe symptoms can be meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord) and paralysis of legs or arms, but the infection can spread widely even before paralysis manifests itself.
Some high risk factors for paralysis due to polio are:
- Poor immunity
- Surgical removal of tonsils
- Intramuscular injections
Though there is no cure for the disease, can be prevented by two methods:
- Inactive polio vaccine: An injection given in the leg or arm
- Oral polio vaccine: Drops which are consumed orally
Polio can only be eradicated if vaccination is given to each and every child living in urban, rural or the remotest parts of the world. The polio vaccine tricks the body’s immune system into producing antibodies even though there is no disease as yet. India is a shining example of how government initiatives have led to the virtual eradication of polio. In just one phase of national immunization 640,000 vaccination booths were set up with 2.3 million vaccinators and 200 million vaccines; 191 million homes were visited and 172 million children vaccinated.
On World Polio Day, let us spread awareness and help keep our nation polio free.