Polio: Do we have to worry about it once again?

Image credit: Oneindia

One of the most dreaded childhood illnesses in the past was polio. It can target the nerve system and cause paralysis in a matter of hours.

People cannot breathe if the chest muscles are paralysed.

Additionally, the iron lung, which resembles a sarcophagus and requires bellows to maintain the patient’s breathing, was formerly a common sight in polio wards.

But for good reason, all of this seems like a bygone period.

The spread of the sickness has nearly completely disappeared from the earth.

Natural polio was last reported in the UK in 1984.

And in this perspective, it is important to understand the recent news that polio has paralysed a young man in the US and that a million youngsters are urgently receiving vaccinations in London.

Vaccines have eradicated polio since their development in the early 1950s.

According to estimates from the World Health Organization, without them, 20 million people who can walk today would have been paralysed.

From a global issue in the 1980s, the disease has now been contained to pockets in just a few nations.

Polo is an endemic disease that still poses a hazard to the rest of the globe even though it is only present in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

First, these nations can spread epidemics.

A three-year-old girl in Malawi was found to have the first wild polio case in Africa in more than five years.

Although nobody is certain how it travelled, it was the same strain as that discovered in Pakistan.

Second, the vaccine that is used in both endemic and outbreak-prone nations has the potential to be problematic.

Oral drops of a weakened but still live strain of the poliovirus are used in the most effective polio vaccination.

It is the best option for reacting to epidemics since it is affordable, simple to administer, and produces exceptional immunity.

But because it causes a stomach infection, it ends up in people’s faeces, where it can spread to other individuals.

This is useful since it protects others indirectly, on one level. However, when it spreads from one person to the next, it may evolve until it may paralyse a person once more. This virus is poliovirus vaccine-derived.