Has Polio Been Eradicated?

Polio, or Poliomyelitis, is a viral disease that is most often transmitted through the faecal/oral route .  It is highly contagious and mostly affects young children. Many people ask the question, has Polio been eradicated? Read on to find out…

Previously widespread in more than a hundred nations, Polio is now endemic in just two: Afghanistan and Pakistan although sporadic cases can still occur elsewhere. Polio re-emerged in southern Africa in 2021, and cases of vaccine-derived polio surfaced in Israel and the United States in 2022. On top of this, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused huge disruption to the management of the outbreak of Polio in the country’s west.

The disease once killed or disabled hundreds of thousands of people each year, but advancements in vaccines and public health initiatives have led to impressive advancements. To support the global response, the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to declare it a worldwide health emergency in 2014. This classification is still in effect as health organisations fight to eradicate the disease.

Polio has not been eradicated, primarily due to the difficulties faced with widespread vaccination against the disease. There are several challenges to vaccinating the world’s remaining unprotected children. Some communities in parts of the world strongly oppose vaccination efforts, and polio workers have come under attack by these populations.

Transmission of Polio

The virus enters the body through the nose or mouth and infects. The main method for infection is through contact with contaminated oral-faecal contact, which can be through an infected nappy, through oral sexual practices or contaminated food and water sources. Though uncommon, Polio can be spread from person to person through coughing.

Symptoms of Polio

Many patients infected with the polio virus are asymptomatic. Under these circumstances they may be capable of transmitting the disease to others even though they themselves remain asymptomatic. It is estimated that between 90 to 95% of all infections are inapparent. Fatal cases associated with Polio is approximately of 5%. Patients infected with Polio may complain of fever, sore throat, headaches, nausea and vomiting and generalised muscular pains. Diarrhoea may be a presenting symptom.

There is no specific treatment to cure Polio. Barrier nursing may be required to lessen the risk of others being infected and ventilatory support may be required if the viral effects are showing high along the spinal cord.

According to the World Health Organisation, the new cases of Polio which emerged in the United States and Israel in 2022 highlight the risk that, until it is eradicated globally, polio can make a comeback in any part of the world.

The vaccination against Polio is nowadays usually combined with cover against Diphtheria and Tetanus.

Thank you for reading our blog ‘Has Polio been Eradicated’. Protect yourself against Polio and book your travel vaccinations with TMB today.

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