About Polio

What is Polio

Polio is a contagious acute viral illness which is transmitted via the faecal - oral route.

The virus can affect a person in various ways from causing no problems at all to causing total paralysis to eventual death from failure of breathing muscles.

World Polio Status

Since the development of vaccines in the 1950s, polio has fast become a disease of the past for many countries worldwide.

By the end of 2003 World Health Organisation declared 3 of its 6 regions polio free; the Americas (1994), the Western Pacific (2000) and the European region (2002).

The other 3 regions; the Eastern Mediterranean, the Southeast Asia Region and the African Region have not yet been declared polio free for various reasons. To be certified polio free, amongst several criteria, all countries within each region must demonstrate absence of wild polio transmission for 3 consecutive years.

This requires immunisation of all children under the age of 5, containment and appropriate management of those who already have the disease and concrete surveillance systems in place to monitor and deal with any emergency outbreaks.

The commencement of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative since 1988 has resulted in a decrease of polio cases by about 99%.

This is a significant number of children who are now walking instead of being paralysed.

Polio is still very much alive today

However, there has been resistance in certain countries which have posed some difficulties in completely eradicating the disease.

As a result of these difficulties several countries are still reporting new cases of infection to date with 4 countries at the forefront; Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Of these, Nigeria accounted for 80 % of all the new cases in 2004 - 2005, re - infecting 8 previously polio free countries by 2008.

The race to end Polio globally is an ongoing one that CA is now 1 of the many groups who are working to achieve it.

Polio is not a curable disease but a preventable one thanks to the development of vaccines and the continuing contribution of money and man power to achieve distribution of these vaccines.

Visit www.polioeradication.org for up to date information on the polio situation worldwide.

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