Poliomyelitis has been among the deadliest disease in the previous millennium. With the development of vaccines and widespread immunization programs, today the world looks forward to the complete eradication of the disease. However, in some parts of the world, it is still rampant. The 24th of October is recognized as World Polio Day to raise awareness about the debilitating disease and its spread and methods of control. Here are 7 facts you probably did not know but should know about Polio.
Polio is a highly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. It can affect people of all ages and can infect the entire body. However, its effects are most prominent in the muscles and nervous system. The population most vulnerable to contracting poliovirus are children below three years of age, elderly above 60 years of age, pregnant women, and immunocompromised.
There are three different strains of the poliovirus: the non-paralytic variety that does not lead to paralysis, the spinal-paralytic variety which results in the paralysis of the limbs, and the bulbar poliovirus that weakens the muscles and cause reflex loss, respiratory distress, etc.
The virus spreads from person to person through saliva, cough droplets, and faecal matter of an infected person. sick people. It can be spread by direct contact with sick people or through the air, food, and water contaminated by the body secretions of an infected person.
Since up to 95% of the infected population can remain without any symptoms, they can easily infect a healthy individual without any clue. Some people may only suffer from commonplace symptoms a fever, sore throat, headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.
Irreversible paralysis occurs in 1 in 200 individuals and some patients with bulbar polio may have to be completely dependant on respiratory support. Of those paralyzed, five to ten per cent of the patients succumb to respiratory failure resulting from immobilization of the respiratory muscles.
Between 1988 and 2013, there has been a more than 99% decrease in reported cases of Poliomyelitis. As of 2014, only three countries Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan still have the virus.
Vaccines can be administered as an oral polio vaccine which is live attenuated and as an inactivated polio vaccine administered intradermally. As the oral polio vaccine can be administered orally even by volunteers, it is preferred in many countries including India.
The only way to prevent as well as eradicate polio is through vaccination. Without any available treatment, the chances of recovery are totally absent. Treatment is only available in the form of supportive therapy. This makes immunization against all three strains of the virus essential to ensure a life free of such a debilitating disease.