World Polio Day was established by Rotary International over a decade ago to commemorate the birth of Jonas Salk, who led the first team to develop a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Use of this inactivated poliovirus vaccine and subsequent widespread use of the oral poliovirus, developed by Albert Sabin, led to the establishment of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) in 1988. As of 2013, GPEI had reduced polio worldwide by 99%.
Polio is a crippling and potentially fatal infectious disease. There is no cure, but there are safe and effective vaccines. Polio can be prevented through immunization. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, almost always protects a child for life. The strategy to eradicate polio is therefore based on preventing infection by immunizing every child until transmission stops and the world is polio-free.
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WHO celebrates the ‘World Immunization Week’ and makes us recall some of the most disturbing diseases that we have been battling for ages. Poliomyelitis, better known as polio, is among these diseases. It has been a widespread problem surviving through centuries and causing disabilities and even taking lives of many in nearly every part of the globe. Even the ancient artworks in Egypt and elsewhere have documented the sorry patients feeling the wrath of the polio virus. This resilient devil has also played havoc in Europe, USA, Africa and many parts of Asia.
But what does the devil do? Polio virus attacks human body causing fever at times and basically damages the muscles. It is mostly destroying the leg muscles causing them to deform and deteriorate. It spreads from human excretions and is dangerously contagious. Decades back scientists developed a vaccine that can be given orally in doses. The vaccine activates the antibodies to keep the virus at sea. WHO and other international organizations have run successful campaigns in various countries through vaccinators. The vaccinators set up camps or go door to door to give the vaccine to infants orally.
Polio has been eradicated from several countries but still it shows up in individuals in certain parts of the world. Vigorous campaigning is on in those few parts as well to kill the devil forever.