Poliomyelitis or more commonly known as "polio" is caused by the poliovirus. The infectious disease is specific to humans and is highly contagious. While polio can be prevented, there is no cure for polio. The CDC writes, "most people infected with the polio virus have no symptoms; however, for the less than 1% who develop paralysis it may result in permanent disability and even death."
With the discovery and global implementation of both Dr. Jonas Salk's inactivated poliovirus vaccine in 1955 (IPV) and Dr. Albert Sabin's oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) in 1962, polio has been eradicated from most of the world. Due to the worldwide participation in polio vaccination programs, the incidence of new cases of polio went from an estimated 350,000 cases in 1988 to a mere 223 cases in 2012. Those countries contributing cases include Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On May 26, 2012, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative developed The Polio Eradication and Endgame Strategic Plan 2013–2018. Their endpoint was to eliminate poliomyelitis from the Earth. Today, polio remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Key facts on Polio from the World Health Organization 2015
*Polio (poliomyelitis) mainly affects children under five years of age.
*One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among those paralyzed, 5% to 10% die when their breathing muscles become immobilized.
*Polio cases have decreased by over 99% since 1988, from an estimated 350 000 cases then, to 359 reported cases in 2014.
*The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.
*Today, only two countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 in 1988.
*As long as a single child remains infected, children in all countries are at risk of contracting polio. Failure to eradicate polio from these last remaining strongholds could result in as many as 200, 000 new cases every year, within ten years, all over the world.
*In most countries, the global effort has expanded capacities to tackle other infectious diseases by building effective surveillance and immunization systems. #WorldPolioDay @CDC @polio @vaccinationschedule @salkinstitute @salkinstitute @worldpolioday @polioeradicationinitiative