Polio’s return — worldwide eradication needs more push
“No polio’s good.”
Captain America lists polio eradication as one of the better things about today compared to 1945 in the latest of Marvel’s The Avengers film series. While it is true that polio was stamped out from the Americas by 1991, World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency this week for the spread of the disease.
Polio (poliomyelitis) is a disease caused by highly contagious virus that mainly affects children under the age 5. In severe cases, it can result in permanent paralysis or death. In addition to being transmittable, 90% of the infected, which can also include adults, have no symptoms and become silent carriers, further assisting with the spread. There is no cure for polio, but it can be prevented through oral vaccinations.
Thanks to a long-run campaign that began since 1988, which decreased the global incidence by more than 99%, we are at the verge of worldwide polio eradication. However, a few countries are still struggling: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Recently, the poliovirus has spread further to surrounding regions, leading WHO to issue a warning and travel restrictions. (You can check the list of affected countries here.)
A polio-free world is within our grasp, but we must win the race to outrun the viral spread.