An overview

Polio, a highly infectious disease caused by a virus, has no cure but can only be prevented (life-long) using a polio vaccine given couple of times to under-five children. Infection is by faeco-oral route and gets multiplied in the intestine finally invading the nervous system which resultant paralysis within hours.

Although symptoms are protean in nature, they include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, neck stiffness and pain in the limbs. In every 1 in 200 infected cases, irreversible paralysis (usually affecting the legs) ensues. In those paralysed, there is a mortality rate of about 5-10 per cent especially when the diseases affected their breathing muscles.

Significant achievements have been recorded due to the intensified efforts to ensure global eradication of the disease. The global case load of the disease have decreased by over 99 per cent from an estimated 350,000 cases in more than 125 endemic countries in 1998 to 1349 reported cases in 2010. Furthermore, case numbers of wild polio virus type 3 are down to the lowest recorded level in history. It is equally important to add that as at 2011, only parts of four countries (Nigeria, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan) in the world remain endemic for the disease and this is considered as the smallest geographic area in history.

In my next blog post, I intend to discuss global Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI).


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