POLIO was one of those deadly diseases that plagued the world and it’s cure seemed far fetched not until research found ways to combat it though it’s cure is still unattained. It is a highly contagious virus that can result in spinal cord and brainstem paralysis. It most commonly affects children under 5 years old. Cases of polio peaked in the United States in the 1952 with 57,623 reported cases. Since the Polio Vaccination Assistance Act, the United States has been polio-free since 1979. WHO revealed that even one confirmed case of polio puts children in all countries at risk.
While many other countries are also certified polio-free, the virus is still active in countries that haven’t started immunization campaigns.
What is Polio
Polio is a viral disease which affects the spinal cord causing muscle weakness and paralysis, some might be partial paralysis. The polio virus enters the body through the mouth, usually from hands contaminated with the stool of an infected person. Polio is more common in infants and young children and occurs under conditions of poor hygiene. Paralysis is more common and more severe when infection occurs in older individuals.
Up to 95 percent of people infected with polio usually show no symptoms. However, infected persons without symptoms can still spread the virus and cause others to develop polio. About four to five percent of infected people have minor symptoms such as fever, muscle weakness, headache, nausea and vomiting. One to two percent of infected persons develop severe muscle pain and stiffness in the neck and back. Less than one percent of polio cases result in paralysis.
Polio is transmitted through fecal- oral mode that is to say when the feaces of an infected person finds it’s way into food or water it contaminates both water and the food, it has the potential of infecting anyone that uses the infected water and food. An infected person barely shows signs or symptoms till after 6- 25 days, during which the carrier can pass it on to unsuspecting individuals.
There is presently no cure for polio. Treatment involves supportive care.
There are three types of polio virus, the serotypes of poliovirus have been identified – poliovirus type 1 (PV1), type 2 (PV2), and type 3 (PV3) – All three are extremely virulent and produce the same disease symptoms. Lifelong immunity usually depends on which type of virus a person contracts. Second attacks are rare and result from infection with a polio virus of a different type than the first attack.
Infection with one type does not protect an individual against infection with the other two types. The development of effective vaccines to prevent paralytic polio was one of the major medical breakthroughs of the 20th century. Two different kinds of vaccine are available, an inactivated (killed) polio vaccine (IPV) and a live attenuated oral polio vaccine (OPV). The IPV is an injectable vaccine that can be administered alone, especially for infants within the first 6 months of life. oral administration OPV produce a local immune response in the lining of the intestines when administered, which is the primary site for poliovirus replication. These vaccines produce antibodies to protect against the virus.
Nigeria has recently attained wild polio-free status after meeting all the criteria for certification, which include three years of non-detection of any wild poliovirus case in the country. Before the certification, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan were the only wild polio endemic countries globally. This milestone is one that should be celebrated, by giving due appreciation to the numerous volunteers in NGOs that took it upon themselves to carry out the vaccine run and make sure every child is protected against the deadly paralytic virus.