According to the World Health Organization, March 27 is a memorable day as India, and the rest of the Southeast Asia region will celebrate half a decade of being free from polio.
Around 12 years ago, India alone holds 70 percent of the world’s polio cases. And right now, its success against polio is considered one of the best achievements in public health. It proved that even with a challenging environment, the disease can be eliminated with strong commitment and dedication.
If polio was not addressed globally, there would probably be 16 million people who are paralyzed because of the virus.
Even if our region is free from the disease, it is still important for our younger generation to understand what polio is. Thus, we have summarized the most important information that you have to know about the virus.
What is polio?
Polio is a deadly infectious disease and caused by poliovirus. It can spread from person to person and can affect the patient’s brain and spinal cord. This can result to paralysis or the inability to move certain parts of the body. Children under five years old are usually at risk.
What are the symptoms?
Surprisingly, most people who are infected with the virus will not show visible symptoms. However, some will have symptoms that are listed below and can last for two to five days:
- stomach pain
- sore throat
And then there are those who experience more serious symptoms:
In few cases, children who were able to ‘recover’ may experience post-polio syndrome wherein they have muscle pains or even paralysis, 15 to 40 years later.
How is it being transmitted?
The virus only infects humans and can spread through person-to-person contact. Remember that it is contagious and deadly. The poliovirus can live in an infected person’s feces for weeks!
How do we prevent it?
The best way to prevent this is to get vaccinated. The vaccine protects the body to fight off the virus. According to studies, 99 out of 100 children who got vaccinated with the proper dosage will be safe from this disease. There is no cure for polio. Thus, vaccination is highly recommended.
Because of the proactive call to vaccinate children, wild poliovirus cases have dramatically decreased since 1988. With 350,000 cases then, to just 33 reported cases in 2018.
Does it still exist in other regions?
Unfortunately, there are still countries where there is still transmission of the virus. These are Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan.
What if polio has been totally eradicated?
This will always be the goal, and hopefully can be turned into reality. If polio will be eradicated, it will be a true milestone globally and it will benefit everyone, regardless of their location and status in life. It was also found out that billions of dollars can be saved if the disease will be eradicated. And lastly, the thought of not having to worry if a child will be infected is just priceless! Every child deserves to fully enjoy life, polio-free. Again, vaccination is the key.
As for India and the rest of the Southeast Asia region, wonderful news indeed.