By Dr Zuneera Akram:
In order to preserve awareness about Polio virus, annually, 24th October is sighted as World Polio Eradication day with an aim of sharing practical tips to end Polio worldwide. Today most of the world is polio-free, but the disease continues to disable children in some countries. And as long as polio exists anywhere, the disease remains a threat everywhere. Pakistan is one of three remaining polio-endemic countries in the world, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria.
Pakistan has come a long way in its struggle to completely eradicate polio. In the early 1990s, the annual incidence of polio was estimated at more than 20,000 cases a year. Since its initiation in 1994, the national polio eradication programmed has made major strides in reaching children with immunization in all parts of the country. The existing polio epidemiology leftovers the best we have ever seen in Pakistan. The number of cases has declined from 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015 to 20 in 2016 and to 8 in 2017. In 2018, Pakistan has reported 3 polio cases so far, all from Dukki district in Balochistan province.
Medically, poliomyelitis (polio) is still categorized as an endemic viral infection, caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body). It is also called as infantile paralysis
Most people who get infected with poliomyelitis (about 72 out of 100) will not have any visible symptoms. Only About 1 out of 4 people with poliomyelitis infection will have flu-like symptoms that may include—Sore throat with fever & headache; tiredness; and GI upset resulted in nausea with stomach pain. These symptoms usually last 2 to 5 days then go away on their own. A minor proportion of people with poliomyelitis infection will develop other more serious neurological symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord and resulted in paresthesia, meningitis and paralysis. Paralysis is often the most severe symptom associated with poliomyelitis because it can lead to permanent disability and death. Between 2 to 10 out of 100 people who have paralysis from poliovirus infection die because the virus affects the muscles that help them breathe.
Poliomyelitis is found to be highly contagious virus; that transmits through contact with infected feces. Objects like toys that have come near infected feces can also transmit the virus. Sometimes it can transmit through a sneeze or a cough, as the virus lives in the throat and intestines.
An infected person with poliomyelitis may spread the virus to others immediately before and about 1 to 2 weeks after symptoms appear. The virus can live in an infected person’s feces for many weeks. It can contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions. People who don’t have symptoms can still pass the virus to others and make them sick.
“There is no cure for polio, but you’ve two choices to save your child from Polio, either to pray, or to vaccinate.”
So, let’s join hands together to Polio Eradication Initiative.
A child receives two drops of polio vaccine during the vaccination campaigns can live a healthy Polio free life.
The designation of October as “Global Polio Eradication Month” reflects a worldwide drive by public and private healthcare structures to raise awareness of this debilitating infectious disease across all races and class structures and to make Pakistan polio free.