What is polio?
Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a viral disease that is nearly extinct. About a third of patients who get polio suffer some degree of paralysis.
How widespread is polio?
In the U.S., only 8 to 10 polio cases are reported annually, compared to an all-time high of 58,000 cases reported in 1952. All of the cases that occur now are brought in from other countries or caused by vaccination. Polio remains endemic, or "wild" in only six countries. Global health experts expect the disease to be eradicated in 2005 because of vaccination campaigns.
Why is polio no longer considered a threat in the U.S.?
In 1954, a vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk went into widespread use. In 1960, an oral vaccine developed by Dr. Albert Sabin at Cincinnati's Children's Hospital was introduced. Between the two vaccines, polio was essentially wiped out in this country.
Where is polio still a threat?
Polio is still endemic in Niger, Nigeria, Egypt, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nigeria has the highest caseload. The World Health Organization had hoped to eradicate the disease by 2000, but a series of wars and natural disasters slowed vaccination efforts.
What is post-polio syndrome?
PPS is a degenerative illness that strikes some polio survivors decades after their original infection. Symptoms include weakness and fatigue that gradually grow worse, new muscle and joint pain, and new difficulties breathing and swallowing.
Sources: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Post-Polio Health International; The World Health Organization
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